Gratuitous Picture of Dog Attached (You’re Welcome)

My daughter thinks time stands still
While she plays with her dog. She’s not
Done licking my hand, she explains, chill,
Mom. It’s late, maths awaits, but what
I clearly don’t understand – the eye-roll
Punctuates the exasperation –
Is how time and tide wait, and no bells toll,
And the earth stills its rotation;
Clock hands twiddle their thumbs, because
The dog and her human haven’t played all day.
And here’s the riddle: Why is it so late, calculus
Takes so long! she wails. This is probably not
A good time to weigh Time taken against
Time spent, and when we wonder where the years
Went, will those hours learning calculus
Help us calculate value-per-lick versus
The short end of homework’s stick?

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Unnameable II

I remember when my girls were small,
I trained myself never to say their hands
Were soft as flowers. Or that their faces
And smiles and dancing figures brought
To mind roses or lilies or stalks of tall
Rajnigandhas. Not even the thought
Was allowed to enter my heart. A heart
In whose depths lay a memory so wild
-“She was like a flower, my little child” –
A mother whispering of her girl, 2002.
I will never – am never allowed to – forget you.

Unnameable I

Not that many years ago, I wrote
A poem for my daughter who was eight
How she spent hours making paper
Horses. The delicate art of
Origami concentrating her young frame
The wind in their manes a kind of grace.
Today another eight year old face
Asks me how little feet flying
Over hills and grass with a herd
Of horses in her care, are now lying
In a grave seven kilometres away
From a resting place denied her
When the only grace granted her
Was dying.

You Can Only Fix Their Problems For So Long

When you look back on this day, she said,
It will be one of your parenting successes.
I always successfully parent, I snort, you just
Don’t always appreciate it. Well, she said,
Well done today. I probably won’t look back
On this, or if I do, I will have forgotten what
It was that I successfully did. It might be just
As well if the passage of years hid these peaks
And troughs of raising kids. One rarely speaks
In the past tense of one’s parenting, anyway.
As if the present continuous were the only
Tense in which a parent could convey the
Gut-wrench of knowing your kids went
To bed happy at the end of the day.

Notes

These days it’s feet.
I know this because within
The lines meant for maths
Or historical facts, or data
From experiments, I find,
Instead, ballet shoes. Tied
Cross-ribboned, crumple-toed.
Northstars, loose-laced,
Casually en point. It’s been
A while since I saw braids
Everywhere, in margins and
Corners, curved about the binding.
I think about this random finding
Of my daughter, in notebooks
That I’ve bought her. Noting
How learning is often a matter
Of reading between the lines.

Warriors I: A Reckoning Of Forces

A warrior is a funny creature
As much fierce and fire
As she is mud and mire.
As much tears as blood
As much ebb as flood.
And when once you have fought her
Seen the triumph you have brought her
You’ve done no more than teach her
That wars are won by no higher
Force than our daughters.

Warriors III

Before we had things
To put in our house
They danced in the empty spaces.
And sometimes when we sing
Of all we have lost
The night flows past in their voices.
How many times I’ve laid them down
My weapons and my defences
Only to find them forged anew
And alight in my daughters’ faces.