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Children & Other Wild Things

Fire and Ice, fanning across the winter windows.
You create, you begin
But they are Wild
And Go as they will
And listen to laws
You cannot hear
And leave a beauty
Beyond your imagining
Which could only Conceive
of their first flickering sighs
across the panes.

Muddy Waters

Your blood carries rivers
From wells of human understanding

Every pump of your heart sends them

Racing through you:

The Cherokee whose Trail of Tears

Left her open to love with the enemy

The Purépecha, bronze and quiet,
Their flat noses forcing your abuelo’s family
To concede that, perhaps, some of their children
Might like to tilt their jug of water
into masa for tortillas de maíz

Instead of pillowy dough for White bread

Amama, who was carried in darkness
Away from her home over the sea, where the blood
Of a thousand years of the fierce Euskalduna

Continued to circulate in her confused veins

Tata abuelo who put his body between
A bullet and the Revolution
After the government gave his farm
Back to the People.
Stream trickling through the mill wheelhouse

Empty of sugar

Further back, Spaniards, but first Jews,
Scattering like drops of anointed oil
When the water of the washbasin hit them.

One more incarnation of the Oldest Story

And closer, waves crashing into each other
Mixing spray and salt and bits of ocean treasure
Broken down until you cannot tell what it was

When it entered the dark depths

Hungarians looking for the promise of a land of
Immigrants, open for the taking.
Germans and English and Scottish and Italian

Swiss and Basque and who knows

I wonder if I dilute you
A mother of muddied waters
A confluence of streams
That spring from unknown underground sources
Skin of a thousand pigments
Eyes that changed from brown to green
Even the windows to my soul

Prone to shifting with the tides

Who are you, who can claim
Molecules from everyplace making rivulets
That rush through you

Where is Home for the River?

Aylan Kurdi 9/2/15


when you give an extra late night hug
to your perfect little person
whose little legs in little blue shorts
and little red sneakers
look just like those
of someone else’s perfect little person,
except you are here and they were there.

and that is the only reason you can see
why you get to squeeze him
in the cricket noise night
and she does not.

and for what?
and am i not she, and my he, hers?
what separates me from her, he from him?

when your good luck is almost more than you can bear,
when it becomes the burden of surviving,
the responsibility to change the tide of human cruelty,
which pulls us all under like a wave into the night.

when the answer is not
to pull your perfect person closer and be grateful,
but rather to scream,
to cry,
to fight.

but i am just One

and I have Him still waiting,
to begin a new day
full of joy and wonder.

Do I tell Him?

Or do I hold the grief
of a mother for her son
in my heart,
and hug him tighter?

my mother would have taught me to cook

everyone said she was a wonderful cook
soup to nuts

but i was too young to learn
to do anything but lick the beaters
when she went away

into her own mind

and left me alone
with my father and sister
who share a name but not a soul
with me
in Nowhere, America, 1986.

dunkin’ donuts and frozen pizza.

just last year, after another move,
i found her purse
left in the car the day we left her
at the hospital
all those years ago
and in it was a menu list
another and another,
the dishes betraying the repetition

of her confused mind.

Green beans amandine.
we must have eaten it a dozen times that month,

if her lists ruled her actions.

what are green beans amandine?
i don’t know.
i don’t know the taste
i don’t know the method
i don’t know if she would have taught me, if only
i don’t know how to start the search
that would lead me to the woman who made them for me
over and over
our last days together

even if she didn’t know it then.

Her last meal.

i’ve lost them, and others like them,

Just like i lost her.

everyone said she was a wonderful cook.
somehow, everyone says that about me, now.
but how I got here
was by a thousand thousand nights
facing down dinner alone,
not sure where I came from or how to get

where I was going.

i don’t have family recipes,
Things i can simmer to breathe in

the smell of Her.

Everyone says i’m a wonderful cook
but i can’t make green beans amandine.

When They Told Me

When they told me you’d be
A Daughter

I cried.

I wanted everything
for you.
But the world cleaves life
Like an orange and
Gives its daughters

And shoves the other half
Into its mouth
Already full with fruit
Dribbling drops of precious
Hope out the sides
Slobbering the excess
That was to be your birthright
If you were a Son.

A daughter will have to
For what is given to
A Son.

Fight to be heard
Fight to be seen
as anything other than a body
Fight for half of what
A Son claims
As a right.
Fight for your life.

When they told me he’d be
A Son
I again felt a loss
Of Sisters
That would never be.

You can’t do this Alone.

All The Things

To all my children, about All The Things:

Don’t rush it. This is not your last chance. This is not the best you can do. If you had to ask if you should settle, you shouldn’t. If it feels wrong, it probably is. If you wonder if you could have tried harder, you probably could.

If you are scared to do it, there might be a reason. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

That said, take a step back and look at your fear from across the room, like you’ve never met You before. What are you really afraid of? What is the worst that could happen if you faced your fear? What is the worst that can happen if you don’t? What will you miss out on because you think you aren’t enough of something? What will you endure because you decide that enough is good enough for you?

Your life will never balance. Hell, your checkbook, or whatever modern equivalent you now use, probably won’t.

Don’t shape your life around a future that may never arrive, around a dream that you might arrive at to find it doesn’t fit any more. Plan for your future, but don’t live for it. Live for you. The you that is here right now. That is the only You.

Respect this You. If someone doesn’t believe in You of the Now, let them go. Every one of us lives our own universe, with others just satellites in orbit around us. Remember that even people who love you still love themselves first. You cannot break someone by protecting You. But you can break You by letting your voice grow small in their shadow.

You need to be whole. Learn to say good-bye gently, and hello with warmth and hope.

The best choices in your life will still arrive with bags full of doubts and dirty laundry, and the worst choices might still bring you some of your life’s greatest gifts.

If it’s hard to decide, it’s because there isn’t a Right Answer. There is only Your Answer. And you will answer the question wrong. You might even fail. But you only lose if you give up.

Even though you will think no one cares, even though you might think there is no way out but Out, you will be wrong. Wrong is okay, and Wrong must happen every time you learn something new about yourself and your place in the world. Every morning that you wake up brings you closer to who you are meant to be, no matter how dark that one morning seems. Every second you spend on regret is a second squandered that could have been joy, or rest, or love.

No matter where I am or who You are, I will always love you. This is the love that I carry from my mother, and my step-mother, and my godmother, and grandmothers and their mothers. Maybe your dads and such, too, but they don’t weigh in on these matters with much clarity or purpose.

This is what will carry you when you are sure you cannot walk another step. I will carry you. We will carry you. You just have to let us in. And we will tell you that you are strong. That there is no way but forward. That every step is a step closer to the light of your life. That this light, whatever and whomever and wherever it may be, will shine from within you to illuminate your way. And that we are All just moments behind you, enthralled in your journey.

Because it is our journey, too. And because you are not the end of the road. You are a guide for the next unsure explorer. Forge ahead with the torch of love, unafraid and yet unsure, which is the best way to Be.


All Your Moms