how to dive in
Be afraid. Tremble at the thought. Sleep poorly. Eat potato chips in
nervous succession. Get angry when you least expected it. Feel
impatient at small talk, how much it delays and distracts. Yearn
for silence, that necessary blank canvas. Take note of the way clouds steal
across the sky, shaping themselves into the faces of celebrities, or a rabbit.
Find yourself, unexpectedly, advancing toward an edge, electric and unsure.
Notice the texture of the ground under your feet - loose pebbles, hot granite.
See what you do when no one's watching, how you lean in, how you want more,
aching for that first kiss of wind on your face, that smile of sun, beaming.
Catch your breath, close your eyes, then remember: you're not dreaming.
how to dive in
for L. & K. & S.
Vermont and the smell of rain on those back roads. The beard
on the man in the coffee shop. The neighbors' daughter, petulant until
she dizzied herself on the front lawn. The price of organic blueberries.
A secret Tuesday in June. The way the faucet won't tighten. Fresh paint
on an old door. Phone calls to Illinois and California and your father. Another run
to Home Depot. Tears when you least expect them. Tears when you do. The beach
and its crashing symphony of children. The book you are, unknowingly, writing.
Maps from the places you've traveled. The startle of grey in your hair.
A photograph from high school, that regrettable dress.
An avocado, underripe, you open nevertheless.
If this poem were my daughter, she’d be 9 today, and I’m sure
I'd throw her a party, make a cake from scratch, scour the stores
for the right gift and the perfect card, write something funny, and another
something that would tell her how it felt to become her mother, those years
spent waiting and sleeping and wondering until at last she peeked out
from the darkness and pierced the world with her voice. That sprig of hair,
those spongy fists, my heart exploding at first glance – I would tell her about
that, too. But how do you celebrate a poem? How can you say how proud you are
of the way she knows herself, finds her legs each time, makes a dance out of silence, stirs
awake when she’s ready. How do you say, “You’re mine” when the truth is, you’re hers.
Nothing quite prepares your muscles for that kind of heavy lifting,
the contortion around corners and low-hanging doorframes,
and the way summer suddenly barrels down with dry heat and punishing sun.
But I mean beyond that, how you become so aware of the weight
of possession, the history you’ve carried all these years, your objects holding
the stories of your stories, and how despite that, you are a flush of innocence,
biting into the bright apple of a new beginning, advancing toward the clearing
without out any certainty of what you will find there, yet feeling ready and resilient.
All day, your body submits to the task, bending and twisting with a rare eagerness,
drunk on the fresh start nesting in this strange address.
cheering them on
When the boy with the beautiful voice started singing, I wanted
to cry. Then, on the video reel, his brother - an early gymnast -
made a spectacular dismount from the high bars, and I felt my heart
lift and flutter as if these were my own kids, which they weren't.
It was hard, a little, not to gush. Hard not to think about home and the daily
bobble with algebra, or the undistinguished soccer season, or the grinds
we go through just to get a single book read. I admit, I sat there shaky
and confused, craving an unnameable excellence when, of course, it shines
when I least expect it. A hug, a dance move, how they ask for help so skillfully,
without a trace of resistance, and with a smile just for me.