She said I’m becoming a young lady
When I asked her if she understood what was
Happening to her body and such.
She said it with a mixture of pride
And embarrassment, a twinkle in her still-a-kid eye,
A pink flush in the same cheeks
I used to pinch at bath time.
Which prompted the unsolicited apprehension
That I was becoming an older man
Myself, which I sort of relished
With my own ad hoc mixture
Of accomplishment and foreboding.
Visions appeared of when I was twelve;
Wisps of pubic hairs, scrawny thighs
A pimple boring into my back like an awl
And I envied her relative self possession.
The first flash of a woman just dawning.
Becoming happens whether we know
Where we’re going or when we’ve arrived.
Beginning-less and destination-less,
The doggedness of un-belonging.
I know I won’t be around to hear her sigh
And whisper into a mirror the old lament---
I have become an old lady---
Some desultory grayed Tuesday morning
Which makes me want to cry
And I cry too much for a grown man
Though I'm known as even-keeled and cold.
I want to tell her about crying,
How deep and complex it is,
Beyond just cuts and nicks and mother’s deaths.
That we can cry when we love so deeply---
This child, this life, this morning song---
That crying is the only linguistic refuge
Available when we can't find the words.
Like how we must breathe
When the air runs out
And find we’ve dived too deep.
Love inosculates itself with grief
As spring commingles with fall.
We forget to laugh with the daffodils
While mournlessly ignoring
The descent of the last leaf.
It all runs around together:
Gains and losses,
Things we cling to,
Piles of discarded rubbish,
Coming and going, this way or that,
It’s easy to lose track.
Love can surprisingly sting in the
Same sense that sadness
Can descend as welcome relief.
I won’t tell her yet
About the old men who weep
For all the time they’ve lost
To gain this one moment of bliss,
How love and loss become two sides
Of the same coin that we flip
And call heads or tails and
Wait for it to never come down.