Tag Archives: years

Six

Ophoto
 
he knows now how to read.
he won’t pass through kindergarten again.

he won’t bring home another packet of sight words,
tape them to the wall
over his largely-unmade bed,
lie in the darkness,
read them by flashlight.

that moment,
that emerging,
that world,
that lifetime,

that he-and-I
is gone —

and I want it back.

Buddhism might one day free me from suffering, but not from being human. If anything, I feel my joy, my sadness, anguish, loneliness and contentment more acutely. Buddhism promises the possibility of welcoming each one. It has taught me, even, to welcome my attachments, to not run away from even my clinging.

My relief from suffering, when it arises, comes not from stoicism. Instead, it arrives when I allow the joy and dukkha that are the essence of fatherhood to be together. It comes when I turn and face them both and say, Yes, all of this. This is now. This is fatherhood. The wanting and the letting go. This is love. This is it. All of this. This is it.

Almost Nine

Today is the final day he is almost nine.
As I worried he might,
he holds my hand less often.

The world pushes in on us;
the spaces in which we can hide —
just the two of us —
are more difficult to find,
simpler to disrupt.

Yet on this day,
his brother and sister
already gone from the table,
he pauses at my shoulder.

Even as I pull him onto my lap,
I expect him to continue on
to his book or simply something else;

but he sits
and softens.

Later, in the quiet of a too-late night
my wife whispers to me,

you should have seen his face.

Newest poem in the Years series.

Five

The arc on the old swing is short
and the set rocks uneasily
from so many seasons
in the snow and rain.

He has known it
for all of his five years,

but now runs to it less often,
lingers not as long.

Just the other day
he asked me for a push,
one he doesn’t need anymore —
a big one, he said,
and laughed
as he rose and fell
straining back,
reaching upward.

The blue sky was clear
and closer than it used to be.

Completing the set with companion pieces Ten and Almost Eight.

Ten

Her ears glowed bright red
when she returned home,
newly pierced earrings
gracing either side of her
bright eyes and shy smile.

I wished that we had taken her picture
in the morning,
but we hadn’t planned
for this to be the day —
just gone ahead when she asked,
following through on a months’ old promise.

As I watched her through the kitchen window
my wife told me about how
brave she had been.
We reminisced about that cold winter
when we had walked her back and forth
between her bedroom and ours,
soothing her newborn tears.

She came inside to tell me
she had seen the first snow drops,
or at least their green shoots
peeking through the icy leftovers
of the latest storm.

That’s where I’m going to build my fairy house,
she told me.

She ducked back outside
and leaned against the post on the porch,
filling an old seashell with greenery,
her legs outstretched
in the pale sun and
whispering quietly to herself,
perhaps about the moment,
or maybe about
all of her ten years.

(A found companion piece to Almost Eight)

Almost Eight

I stopped at the top of the stairs
to wait for him
as he shuffled out of his bedroom,
sleepy-eyed and not yet steady.

He took the old walnut railing
with his left hand
as we walked next to each other
towards breakfast and the day.

His right hand reached into mine,
gentle and soft,
warm from his blanketed slumber.

He’s almost eight years old, I thought,

in fear of the day
when he won’t slip so easily
into sharing his space
or his hand
with me.

I tried to tread carefully as we went
so as not to disturb our clasp,
wishing the stairs might go on forever,
a father and his boy.