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Category Archives: Parents & Children

At The Mall With My Son

When you were small,
we came here so little
you thought Santa lived
at the mall all year.
Now, taller than me,
an errand for a friend
brings us to this alien territory
where people look like us
except with better hair
and many shopping bags,
tissue paper wrapped
around their treasures.
I’m glad I hate it here.
And glad you hate it too—
glad you carry all your treasures
unwrapped and close to your heart,
spilling from your musical hands,
and your easy smile.

Another Note To Myself, This One Regarding Answering Machines

When it is your turn to be old,
leave a message–
and not the irritated kind of message
Where On Earth Could You Be????
Treat each message like a balloon
released into the air,
a general update:
Life Is Fine Here.
Better yet, learn to text.
Let your texts be Quirky.
Be quite clear in your own mind
that this will make no difference
to the children,
who will continue to ignore you
until they need cash or advice.
But having told them all they could handle,
and having made yourself laugh
you will feel better
in that quiet moment
when you put down the phone
and turn to look out the window.
Afterward, the whole day will color itself
into brighter, more satisfied lines.

The Man Who Mowed The Lawn

Yesterday, a tall man
who looked just like my son
showed up unannounced
and mowed the shaggy lawn.
Under normal circumstances,
A Mowing Stranger
would have been Alarming.
But then he kicked off his big shoes
by the front door,
where I tripped on them
while he ate the last of the cake,
and all the leftover chicken,
leaving only the vegetables,
and a pile of dirty dishes in the sink.
Oh, it’s you! I said.

Her Masterpiece

My first masterpiece,
Girl I painted onto
the canvas of this world.
She took the brush
from my hand long ago
and paints her own picture now.
With bold strokes, she fashioned wry smile,
tender curls and curves.
Humming Broadway show tunes,
she deepens the layers around
her guarded heart,
glimpsed through surfaces
for now,
while her artistic confidence grows,
while she learns to trust this beauty,
this unfolding art of her life,
her own masterpiece.

After All I’ve Done For You

Now, to the Good Mother List
of things I’ve done for you, I’ll add
last night, when I wanted
tea and toast in my pajamas. Instead
I drove to the city in rain and dark
for dinner with an old friend in a crowded restaurant—-
Not because I was anxious to see my friend or eat a $15 salad,
but for you and that question in your eyes
that wonders if I’ll be okay when you leave home.
Truth is, some days I’ll be content
playing my own music,
not cooking or tripping over your shoes,
watching Downton Abbey instead of James Bond.
And some days I’ll be bereft
mourning the lost country of childhood
we can never return to
an ache I can’t describe
which is just as well since you suspect
but don’t want to know
it exists.

The Charm Of Turtles

Along with your sleeping bag,
guitar, fishing pole, dirty laundry,
you bring me a souvenir from camping.
You like turtles, don’t you?
The question freezes me—
for one minute time shifts and you are
four, in love with everything in the world,
holding a toad bigger than your cupped hands
asking me to admire its gray-green self.
Turtles are nice, I say warily, remembering.
From your backpack you dig out a silver turtle charm,
enameled in bright turquoise. You shrug.
I bought you this because you like turtles,
you say, then hesitate, suddenly as uncertain
as when you’ve forgotten Mother’s Day again.
You do like turtles, don’t you?
I do now, is what I think.
What I say is Yes. Oh, yes, I love turtles.

Climbing This Mountain

Add this on the mountain of impossible tasks:
carry Confidence in your children.
Be clear and certain of its weight
like a rock in your knapsack, solidly itself.
Now, its time is here.
Bestow it, confidence given as a gift
when you send them out
into the world that they can handle
whatever stones trip them along the way.
Let go of hoping they need you.
Let go of fearing they need you.
Let go of all that wishing,
all your pebbled memories.
Open your tightly closed fingers.
Let that rock you love nestle
into the ground at their feet.
With your empty fingers
raise your hand and wave.

Learning To Subtract

This too, is part of your job, harder than toilet training or teaching addition.
Don’t pound on the opaquing glass between you and them. Don’t
tap their shoulders like the nervous bird you are. They are
ready, eager to get into the world. Don’t do anything
to make them turn around. But in case they
glance back, you should be Waving.
And, of course, you should
be Smiling as you Wave.
This, too, is part
of your

Another Empty Nest

I’ll never know
why you believed
our rickety green table
that’s never been asked
to hold more than a lamp, a phone,
the occasional vase—
Why would you believe it could hold
But, you explain again,
baby birds need to eat
every ten minutes.
You learned this online.
You couldn’t find the step ladder
or we never had one to start with
and the mother was going nuts…

She’s not the only one.

Your expression is as stunned as a baby bird.
I didn’t think you’d care that much,
is what you say, bemused.
You explain to me again
how you saved the bird
certain this time
I will see things differently.

Later, calmer, phone and lamp
in their new home on the floor,
it’s a comfort
to remember your surprise.

Private Practice

These are rehearsals.
Before the curtain rises
on that show about empty nests,
practice solitude–
Ten minutes, an hour, a day
with no one asking
for money, food, rides.
Test the quality
of the air at midday,
at midnight.
Soft as the leaves on maple trees
when the wind dies down,
quiet as nights without crickets.

A Hundred Falling Veils

there's a poem in every day

The Novel Bunch

aka: The Happy Bookers

Red Wolf Prompts

I came to where you were living, up a stair. There was no one there.--John Ashberry, "The New Higher"

typewriter rodeo

custom poems on vintage typewriters

A Poet in Time

One Poet's Writing Practice

Writing the Day

A Ronka Poetry Practice Since 2014

Invisible Horse

Living in the moment