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.

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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.

Hero

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.

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.

This Little Girl of Mine

What are little girls made of?
The ingredients are a mystery.
It is more than sugar and spice.
It is more than everything nice.
It is many voices, many lives.
Who live inside this girl of mine.

She can stroll by with her silent gait.
Wide eyes and a pleasant gaze.
The gentlest smile and the softest face.
Rest against my chest with her loving embrace.

Then her fury can rage from so deep inside.
I assume she has set her eyes on the prize.
To send her mother to the edge of her mind.
But there are so many voices, so many lives.
Living inside this girl of mine.
She regains my heart with a treasure handmade.
Placing it on my palm with that pleasant gaze.

Today, this little girl is the source of my pride.
She climbs higher and higher, leaving the big boys behind.
The park is her jungle. She rules like a queen.
You are made of royalty, I do secede.
Rule the world and I promise you, my sweet…
I will feed the ground with your sugar and spice.
I live inside this little girl of mine.

Sunday Kayak Ride

On the precipice of season comes change,
And falling boys on the edge of their height.
One is without two is without three.
They plummet to the wind.

Mothers record these days on the edge of confusion.
A triumph of one fallen to greater things.
A topple on the sun of a Spring afternoon.
A sand path to the freedom of water.

You are a kayak on the edge of the sun.
The leader of your craft, the captain of your youth.
The price we pay for freedom,
Is to know the beauty of pride.

This is for the infant whose hands we held above his head.
May you walk this lake alone.
Hold your paddle against the wind.
And touch it to the sun.

He is my man on his way to worship.
He claims his youth among the trees.
The paddle of branches above his head.
The feet of roots below the sand.