Learning to Ride

I know that there were hands behind me
like a scaffold to be sewn into the mind
for future use in middle age, supporting
the crooked back of motherhood,
to let them fall, to have them ride.

and it was the hillside, the rolling path that took
him forward without my hands
because it was a better option—to ride away
in exhilarating pleasure than to believe that this new body
had a balance of before and after.

We can be owned by no one except in the memory of hands.
They keep letting us go to pedal the bridges of this unsteady world.


The Mirror

for my son, age 7

Growing into himself too quickly
he questions the composition of his face
positions his eyes slightly closer together
as if an acute pose will make the
mirror aware of his inevitable manhood

tight with time, he is a builder, toppling
his hair, climbing it again with minded hands
he is arched as if running a bridge,
elevated in his position
as the undefeated ruler of himself.

I have encountered my only enemy,
I realize, a mirror that speaks to him
in futurist illusions of adulthood,
wherein lies of glorious independence
speak in imaginary tongue, and I
am the voice of unheard truth:

“romantic possibilities are not on the other side
of your reflection, know the blessing of your
present reality and speak to it as if it loves you
more than you can love yourself.”

The dark is my welcome time now
your original mirror, your arms tight
have you forgotten yourself?
simple presence with original source
oh, what little you know of life
I will teach you everything.

My Daughter (Age 7)

She is like her grandmother
elegant and precise in style,
overdrawing hair and flaunting her inherited mannerisms
every morning a new show,
a cautious and a refined display of courage.
This child has clear common sense, perceiving every day
as an opportunity to imitate life and create new meanings
from simple words. How many arenas are echoing for her
in mindful conversations, the breath of a small woman
unfazed by standardized expectations.
Some rainbow of the mind worn in garb
of coordinated color and light, an aura, a vision
of herself in determined choice—
pride is such, a head to toe sort of performance for a young child,
an accessorized companion who somehow belongs to me.
She doubts that, walking forward
with kindness and independence trailing behind.


I cannot honor lies.
I cannot breathe praises of death.
I cannot take limbs
like those sold to children.
I am mother.
You are plastic in words.
We birth babies. They are flesh,
tears, needs, innocent hearts.
We have limbs.
We have children.
You are empty of mind. You say hero.
You say God. You paint the world
in red                   and leave the sun behind.
Behind this high wall, untouchable enemy,
mysterious evil, who created your answer,
molded your hero, demonized the child.
Life is life. Mother is mother.
Limbs lost and again you scream hero—
Hero, Hero, Hero.
You say the Earth. You say you own breath.
You say mine is yours.
I breathed life into this land, civilized presence,
gave trees to the sky.
We own life. The invisible enemy.
The flashing hero, painted in red,
dripping color into hollow ground.

Breakfast with My Son (Age 10)

I watch him, too.
How are you life all on your own?
Where the water breaks and the light enters.
What a curious misunderstanding of the meaning
of justice and warmth. I have given you
place here. Let me watch without
words, the pensive profile may be
etched in the sky for all I care.
Let it not be lost, oh so faraway,
forest of forgotten memories              so much forgotten
the visual, the audial, our platonic sensuality,
our mirage, our past life,
my motherhood, your childhood.
The essence of thought and the break.
The simplicity of breath without air.
You give me half of your food in offering.
You give thanks.
I will eat slowly.
This memory.

The Joining of Blood and Fire

I can write you in red to celebrate
the season of my birth, your fire
and paint you in rain, your storm
and join you in blood and rage,
grow as I do, I remember
much, some days I remember little
a girl and I wonder in silence
when there is no moon,
there was room for words,
for what you grew in objects, I presume
it was false destiny allowed
to decorate life and create
between idols, memories, erect distance
in me, a lovely sort of vulnerability,
still in here, the story continues
to ask questions until it grows its own purpose,
circles its own seasons and spills its own fresh blood, roots
and whistles ecstasy from the ground, what you knew,
you still know, what you saw, you took hold of again,
and I understand it was no better than
silence and its accessories, but mother
mine, yours, and ours listen, there will be want
of you forever, forgetfulness among animate selves,
my destiny is you, they are here
and they whine amongst the idols
for recognition and they live in screams and laughter,
where should we go together tomorrow, can we draw outside
the lines of fire just this once, it will be unprecedented,
your motherhood and mine
unnecessary company built from what you heard
of roots and loves and echoes in family
the journey begins to flood, to spill familiar blood,
and hide inside of fire, extinguish my womb—
I am you now.

The Guilt of Peaches

I felt today that I take
for granted what reappears
in tradition
in appeasement
in the fruit fields on the opening of August
in succulent flavor
in the orange, translucent light (after a bite)
these are things that live
again and again
they are rebirth
death, they are never
in stomach parting
the snack for a scavenger of night
a pit left behind for the subtle hope of new growth
we come in the form of return
we in growth, my children from the peach
the size of trees
look at me, certainly not a new tree
I walk away for the next picking.