-for my daughter, Maya, and in memory of David Foster Wallace
Coldest morning in twenty years
Commuters shuffling, rubbing limbs,
Cursing the train again for being late
Coaxing bitter warmth from chuckles
Main Line cancelled…. AHA HA!
Squinting into the sun,
I tighten my wool scarf over my nose, mouth and ears.
Across railway tracks:
A stoic assembly of robins
Ornaments a skeleton of tree branches.
Their orange chests puff like water balloons.
Tiny spouts of white air spiff from their engines.
Two scouts fly off to distant haunts
The resilient lift their beaks
Sip what sunlight pauses.
Tough nuts: no gibbering.
They don’t huddle into each other, yet
One can tell they have a system.
The scouts return, the band advances:
A shock of even colder air hits us all below.
It isn’t the first time I wish I were a bird.
It won’t be the last.
As any mom,
I want to be the best mom.
Friends warn me:
What we remember is not what a child remembers.
Be brave, I say, be happy
But fear curls beside us with its cold clock hands.
You want to be the best child.
But you don’t know what is possible.
Now we queue adult to adult,
Like a shimmering mirror.
Caught in a snow globe,
I abandon my car one evening.
I can’t get up any hill
And even slipping down is treacherous.
I triage with two Comcast guys,
Waiting for them to maneuver
Their jack-knifed vans
They can’t help me, they say,
I could sue their company.
It’s an easier journey on foot.
The hushed world now pinked along its edges,
Only the creek is gurgling
As I wend a path through the woods.
A crazy whoosh startles me from behind.
An avalanche of shape and form,
Four deer clatter through snowy brush.
They eye me for a moment.
So what no feather beds!
No slaves to metal either–
No steering inside it,
No fingering it in a pocket.
I am not a skeptical or cynical person.
I’ve loved the world outright: cobbled roads, milky stars,
Our daily industry edged by shadow.
I’ve been a fool, but each moment has been worth its surprises.
I knew a man, a genius, who was wounded by the beautiful.
He knew we humans don’t have a system.
He let go.
It’s a predictable move
To idealize the natural lives of animals
How they hang on. They are fierce that way.
As your mom, I say, hang on.
The time you take is your time.
As a fellow voyager, I trust
Clear, sweet air after a storm,
Sun searing snow into diamonds,
and later, dappling the driven water.