I‘m fuzzy at the edges while you scrape
sharp lines at each of my corners. I try to
protect myself but still you find a way
around my childproof barriers. A chord is
struck each time your mouth twists and
I feel toddler small—
spanked in self-serving lessons of
obedience, cheeks reddened;
chest heaving with perpetual adolescent sobs.
Ye who plant the seed shall burden the responsibilities
of the fruit; yet I suffer the toil of a heart long laden of dirt.
Grown useless, gnarled, I twist now under the rising gale of wind;
you are a storm that shall never crest.
How I crave for my roots to be severed,
to a garden of lush greens
yet I wither,
longing for vine ripened spices – a spot of sunshine
I could never quite feel.
I can’t believe that my daughter is nearly a month into first grade.
It seems like only yesterday that together we took a walk to her future elementary school. She was only three years old then. She sported a Tinker Bell hat atop her head and wore a Cookie Monster backpack – practice for ‘when she got bigger.’ We watched the children during recess as they ran across the school grounds; I watched her watching them, admiring the glow her wide eyes cast. “You’ll be there one day,” I whispered. “You’ll be on the other side of that fence.” A smile swallowed her face whole and she laughed deliriously. I’ll never forget that day. Funny; certain little things come your way in life that you’d never expect to encounter but once they do, you know enough to seize them. You know enough to store them away. Somewhere safe, where they can last forever.
Athena is six now. If you have followed my blog for any length of time then you’ll know I write of her often. She never ceases to inspire me. To teach. She was born with a deletion of her chromosome seven – the punch list of its effects reads like a horror story. But with extensive therapies, she has nearly overcome it all. She does everything full steam ahead. The little things do not escape her.
But first grade has been a big adjustment for her. Children are expected to be more independent within the classroom. Their workload has increased considerably – I joke that the homework she comes home with is now my homework as well. Unfortunately, there have already been a few days where the struggle has been considerable and she’s broken out in tears.
And yet she smiles through it all and plows forward. She smiles and it swallows her face whole, and her eyes dance with a glow unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I can’t help but realize she’s on the other side of that fence now – in life, in all things.
Already, she has learned to capture every little thing. Including me.
I thought you would follow, but the willow reed swallowed me whole
At least that’s the excuse you sold…
I’d been too busy tightening bolts
Preparing for traffic that would never come.
On the opposite end of nothing now
I’ve teetered upon this sharp edge far too long
Waiting for that willow reed to part
A path once cut through it; I suppose now it’s gone
Should my bridge someday be crossed
Unlike that lost, forgotten route
I’ll keep to tightening bolts, even if my hands get torn
The willow reed once led the way, at least
So you’d sworn.
you grow before my eyes and
the feel of your hand in mine as I walk you to school
stills my restless demons;
I am far from a perfect man but
I live to be flawless in your eyes.
Every kiss you bless upon my cheek
reminds me that while I am responsible
for protecting your life,
you have saved mine.
Sometimes I see glimpses
of the woman you will grow to be and
your subtle grace melts me.
Please know that being your father
is my greatest achievement and honor;
with the very first flutter of your eyes
I became yours to keep
I need to listen closely—
the pain you share
should be sharp yet
comes delivered dull, spoken
at the price of a worn tongue;
how it rends me to hear you
recall the worst of all you have been;
I sit quietly
listening to your soft grace
betrayed by the broken
fragments of your words:
I can’t ever glue you back together
but I can hold you in my hands.