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Posts Tagged ‘son’

I had imagined we’d see dozens of meteors

   streaming across the sky, streaking,

      flaming, impossibly bright.

         Instead, I lay on the driveway

between my son and daughter

   and we stared into the night,

      laughing and singing and listening

         to the sound of the earth turning,

the pavement hard beneath us—

   and above us, the whole

      starry firmament unfolding.

         Not one shooting star did we see, no, but oh,

how the milky way swirled all around us,

   our eyes wide open, my heart soaring, swarming,

      a small piece of matter burning up,

         glowing, impossibly bright,

never quite touching the earth.

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While I heat curried asparagus soup,

my husband and son cover garden beds

with thick gray blankets.

I watch them from the kitchen window,

my son now taller than his dad.

How quickly he bolted, bolts still.

I think of the ways

we try to protect what we grow.

The threat of frost is real.

Like the bean sprout that didn’t make it last night,

despite the fact we covered it.

This morning it was waxy, shriveled, dark.

How quickly it died.

But because my husband made row covers,

everything else survived.

I would like to make a row cover

for my son, for the world—something

to protect against what is harshest, most cold.

Instead, I mix lemon juice, yogurt

and chives that we’ll swirl into the soup.

I can fortify him on the inside.

My husband tacks down the cloths

with hammer and nails—I think

of all that will be saved tonight.

We are charged to take care

of each other, the world. Impossible charge.

My son catches my eye and smiles.

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And so I pull the purple comb

through my son’s thick hair,

the same way I’ve seen

the stylists do at Great Clips.

Wet the hair. Comb it through.

Part it. Hold it between

two fingers. Cut vertically. Snip,

and his hair falls to the floor.

Comb it through. Snip. Snip.

 

We both know that I

have no clue what I’m doing.

So we laugh as the hair

piles up on the floor.

We chatter, the way

a stylist and customer would,

talking of school and his friends

and his unruly cowlicks. Snip.

 

I remember that time

I was trapped underwater

by the river’s hydraulics,

how I stared up at the light

shining through the surface

and thought, I don’t think

it’s my time yet to die.

And the river spit me out

and I swam hard as I could

through the rapid toward shore.

 

I don’t think it’s my time yet

to die. Nor my son’s. Though

all around us the news of dying—

the numbers increasing every day,

stories of beloveds who are gone.

 

We ask ourselves, how do we

go on? And meanwhile, we do.

We go on. And because my son’s hair

is too long for his taste,

I learn how to cut it by cutting it.

How much more will we learn

as this goes on? How to share?

How to grieve? How to let go? How to live?

 

And meanwhile, life spits us out

into sunlight, and we come up

spluttering, gasping, surprised

we’re alive, and we swim, what a gift

to find we’re still swimming.

 

 

 

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Quarantine

 

 

This morning, my teenage boy and I

sit quiet on the couch. He does not move

to pick up his phone. I do not rise to work

or rush to make a meal. We sit, leaning

the trunks of our bodies into each other.

We do not say much. I close my eyes

and cherish his sapling weight.

There are so few people I dare now hug—

our hands, our bodies dangerous—

but here in this house so still I can almost

hear him growing, here in these minutes

that fell off the clock, here I remember

how surely we baptize each other with touch.

Such simple blessing. Silence. The metronome

of breath. The leaning in. Infectious love.

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Allspice. Basil. Bay. Caraway. There were mornings

my boy and I spent on the floor pulling herbs and spices

from the drawer. We’d open the jars and close our eyes

and gently sniff. Cardamom. Cilantro. Cinnamon. Dill.

I took out the cayenne and red pepper flakes

and put them up high on an uppermost shelf.

Some agonies are easy to prevent.

We focused on Fennel. Fenugreek. Mint.

 

Today, he comes home having breathed in deeply

the scent of heartbreak, a jar I would have hidden if I could,

but all of us know it eventually, feel the burn, the inner sear.

Beyond safety, thyme, turmeric, there is fire, and once inhaled,

it hurts everywhere. Eventually we respect the heat as a gift.

Eventually the heart learns to walk through it.

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One with my Son

 

passing it between us

like laughter, like freedom, like joy

the red frisbee

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I suppose by then I had guessed

that love was not only about happiness,

not only about ease and feeling good.

In fact, it turned out as the newborn boy

continued to cry for month after

inconsolable month, love looked

a lot like misery. It sounded like wailing

through all his waking hours.

It felt like exhaustion. Love looked

like losing a dream. And choosing

to cradle the infant anyway. And soothing

the wailing infant anyway. Love

had little to do with happiness.

 

And eventually the crying stopped. And

the boy learned to laugh. And to

hug. And to love. And happiness came.

And went. And came. And went. But love,

love stayed. Like a jay that comes

to the feeder and refuses to leave,

even if you don’t put out seed.

Like the freckle that stays on the skin

long after the burn from the sun.

Like the scar on your elbow shaped like a heart

that you got from falling in gravel. How it took

so long to heal. How you pray it never fades.

 

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We’ve heard the story of the woman

who lifted the car to save her child,

and though it is hard to believe,

 

it happens. Faced with saving a life,

we find the hysterical strength

to do what seemingly can’t be done—

 

I think of those women today,

and I think of my son, trapped beneath

the chassis of teenage torment.

 

It may not be a two-ton car, but it feels

no less urgent. We save a life in seconds

or we save a life in years—

 

of course I’d lift it right away

if such a lift were possible.

I’d hold that Chevy up until

 

he could roll right out from under.

Instead I try lifting other impossible things:

The crush of being misunderstood. The weight

 

of should. The press of daily surviving.

And I think of those mothers who lift cars.

And I bless them, and keep on trying.

 

 

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And after the boy

hugs his sister

and tells her

she did a great job,

 

after he wipes

her tears and holds

her and wraps her

in his awkward arms,

 

after she leans

into him, their

sapling trunks

sloping toward

 

each other,

I want to tell him

how proud I am

of the ways

 

he is growing,

want to affirm

how much depends

on love, want

 

to say I see his tenderness,

but the soil beneath

them is unstable,

precious, and my voice

 

is full of heavy clouds,

so I wait until

they sway apart,

then I walk closer

 

and manage to say

through invisible rain,

It’s time.

Let’s go home.

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And though he struggles to conjugate estar

and though his adjectives precede the nouns,

he’s doing it. He’s telling me about una foto

and all its themes—and though the words

are like strange spices in his mouth—paprika

y cilantro—and though he insists he hates it,

there is a tender sinceridad in his voice, like

a tree seed, perhaps, una semilla, that has

some vague idea of its potential, but is still

so trapped in its seed-ness that it is intimidated

by trees. And whatever part of me that is todavia

una semilla recognizes itself. How frightening

to see all that we do not know, to stand

beneath it like the shade of a giant tree,

to know ourselves as small and still stand straight.

My son finishes his descripción, then smiles

at me, and in his smile, I somehow see

the roots, the greening leaves, the trunk

as it reaches up doing what trunks are made to do.

 

 

 

 

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