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Samantha’s Daily Poem

January 31, 2014

My why muscle

I remember parents saying
all the whys
will drive you mad

but it’s not the frequency
of the demand
or the upturned pitch

it’s the humility
of how rarely
I have the answer
and the absence
of my wonder at all

like today
when you asked me
why you can’t smile
in a passport photo
I was struck by the fatigue
of my own obedience
my why muscle all dusty and limp

so while we waited for your turn
to have your passport photo taken
and I looked over to see you
grinning defiantly
not understanding
that you’re allowed to smile
in the camera store
just not when the photo is taken

I should have whispered
a reminder about the serious face
we had practiced in the car
but I didn’t say anything
out of a gust of respect
for the way you stood in line
a happy warrior
still full of spirit
for protest.

Posted In: Parenthood | one comment
January 30, 2014

Hole punches and minivans

I am not a religious person
but it happens like this every time

today it was Venus
pinned to the sky at dawn
like a fallen ornament

and I am suddenly unmoored
by the reminder
of our solar system

which launches a breathless
inventory of other things
like hole punches and minivans
and Halloween and that boy
who plays stand-up bass
with a kind face
on a mean street corner

and there I am
as the sun swells
on the edge of the lake

with a conviction
that it can’t all
be shrapnel

that something intelligent
lives in between
the noise.

January 29, 2014

When you are asleep

These are the things
that happen when you are asleep

we turn the fort
back into a couch
and hope you won’t remember

we eat the rest
of your dinner

we organize things
into piles
to go beside
the other piles
on the stairs
and we think

good enough

and after our friends leave
that you never knew were here
we are suddenly seized
by an eruption of joy
as we dance a fast waltz
by the front door
while your dad imitates Jimmy Stewart
singing to the tune
of your tinny old train.

Posted In: Relationships | no comments
January 28, 2014


He heard her
talking to friends
about life and goodness
so he married her

she was beautiful
but he always said
it was a gift apart

he held her hand
for half a century
and then one day
he couldn’t

and the news stories
go on from here
about how he arrived
every morning
when the cemetery opened
and he stayed
until it closed

twenty years like this
until his flesh
finally let him go
to the quiet earth
beside her

but I want to know more
about the café
was she laughing
did he interrupt them
and what was it she said
about goodness.

Posted In: Relationships | no comments
January 27, 2014

If zero died

It’s the middle of the night
and you are trying
to open my eyelids

I am too tired
to fend you off
with words
so I burrow my head
under the covers
like a dying bug

you are whispering
as if this makes
it better

mama mama

I continue to pretend
I am asleep
though you have now
also turned the lights on
a screaming brightness
like blowtorches to my eyes

mama mama
if zero died
would the other numbers
be sad

you ask me this
with your nose
touching mine

and I cannot decide
which hurts more
the choke of this exhaustion
or the weight
of so much love.

Posted In: Parenthood | 2 comments
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