Miracle (Year 1)

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I love you, Wesley.

It isn't how much you smile, though that is wonderful. It isn't how much you learn, how long you can focus on a single problem, how you beg for books to be read to you all the time, how you always want to join me in my cooking, and say "hot!" It isn't all the little things, or even what they add up to. It is more basic, more binary than that.

It is that you are ours.

It is that you are.

That is the miracle.

I have asked for many more years with you, as any parent does. But there is no peak knowledge, no peak capacity to a human. You are fully you, as fully as I am me. The potential you have is only icing on a fully baked cake. Any thought less is sacrilege: you are no less than me, you are as much as me - if anything, you are more (unsullied by disenchantment, by insecurity, by selfishness, so quick to love and believe and trust, as if that was what the world was for).

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There is one particular thing I want you to learn: scale. So much knowledge can be summed up in comparisons of scale. One of your favorites books right now poses two questions: “What is smaller than a flea?” and “What is bigger than the sky?” The answer to the first, according to this book for kids, is “A world of things too small to see.” To the second: “The never ever ending sky.” I hope you understand how trite both of those are. There are real answers. In fact, there is one answer to both questions. An overarching, and an underpinning. A first, and a last. A beginning, and an end.

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You began one year ago. Now we get to count: 1. If you live average, you’ll have 70-ish more of these. There are a thousand decisions that increase or decrease that number. My great-grandmother lived to be 101. She jogged each day until she was 97. My mother attributes her health to her positive attitude. As miraculous as this longevity is, the goal of life is not more days or more years. It is good days. You have already had so many good days.

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You broke your mother, you know. In more ways than one. But the pain let you graft into her in a way too precious for me to covet. Even if I must admire the bond you share at a distance, it is worth it. This year has been the story of you, beginning, but it has also been the story of her, changing chapters. I would pick no better son to hurt her than you, and no more constant warmth, no more ambitious mind to challenge her and nestle into her than you.

You are the miracle.

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Miracle:

A tired word for tired people.

Code for uncanny/incredible/can't.

A name for an event I must admit

makes me believe the supernatural exists.

You were born 1 year and 34 minutes ago.

I caught you.

You were a tired word born to tired people.

You stood for the incredible.

You were an event I must admit

made me believe the supernatural exists.

You traipse through the days,

hunkered into my elbow crook.

You while toward time I do not have

and you find it for me.

You careen frequently,

veer on and off my path

at the most inconvenient intervals.

You furl up to say goodnight once a day

like clockwork conjured

from some preimagined rhythm.

You tinge everything with smile,

mull the click of buckles,

find the kilter in the sleep cycle,

and hoodwink me with wink-attempts

and chuckles.

You are a fresh take on stale speech.

You stand for the simple.

You are an event I still admit

makes me believe God exists.

Happy Mother's Day, Shannon

A tree does not know where its seed will take root.

A flower does not decide which bee will bear its fruit.

A mother cannot bring about a vision for her child,

no matter how she bends the truth.

A bird does not trust its sons forever to the nest.

A fox has not the weave with which to keep her daughter dressed.

A mother cannot promise funds or firmness of the future,

but these are not the sources of her rest.

A star will die in chaos without all sense of direction.

A night gives birth to morning but makes no vain prediction.

A mother knows not what tomorrow is,

but still she keeps conviction.

She believes beyond all vacuums,

because of patterns, hopes and hints

that there exists a stronger love

than she could provenance. 

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What Begins in Ceremony

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There is no history

between us

my experience of you is one continuous loop.

There never was before you

There will be nothing after.

Thus the Apostle's Mystery:

It may be too much to ascribe

to another person,

too divine to live firsthand.

But God the man makes a bride of mankind:

who am I to belittle what he planned?

I am now always wed to you.

I am always of a bed with you.

I am tomorrow always head to you.

Exclusivity

is an eternal setting

in the story of the heart.

This is what the children of all the divorced know:

Why can it not be with whom you said it would be?

May our children never know it.

What begins in ceremony never dies.

It only gets belied.

What grows in covenant never decays.

It only gets betrayed.

There are promises and mistakes,

Oaths and their oathbreaks.

May he bind the cords again tonight

In a moment unfit to share with anyone else.

May he write the words again tonight

In a poem meant only for us

So we know a little better

What it is to be chosen

And never lied to or betrayed -

A selection once done, ever frozen

In time.

What awe it is to be loved -

A beginning with no end.

Endless beginnings as far as the eye can see.

All beginning, 

No end.

"Behold, I am making all things new."

Once more: I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

Unlanguaged

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As yet

you see my love

as an unlanguaged blur.

You find its lines

only in the shape of my face,

its warmth in my palms.

Some day I will try to tell you

how big it was,

the holding in the night,

the patient waiting 

for the cries to subside.

My parents did the same.

It is impossible 

to fully comprehend

the scale of love 

before we know we are

loved

at all.

For me,

I deceive myself

into the idea that I know enough

to manage my own humanness.

Really, even the smallest corners

of what I cannot see

dwarf the crannies of my mind.

In the niche nooks of knowledge,

some days I can begin 

to see myself in my son:

the fury over things

that do not last,

the joy over things

that are insignificant

but are made magnificent

by that same joy.

And on those days

I sense the presence,

vague,

unworded -

but constant,

known -

wishing me into growth,

loving me in

to life.

I love you, Wesley.

I love you, Wesley.

Happy Birthday, Shannon

Got gifted a big date where the dessert was smokey and looked like dirt but tasted like chocolate.

Got gifted a big date where the dessert was smokey and looked like dirt but tasted like chocolate.

The Second Time Around

You gave it your best

shot across the bow.

But you are caught between then

and tomorrow and now.

You swam among sharks

circling you in water and in dreams.

But you are spinning in an arc

so fast you're splitting at the seams.

Before you come undone, out of touch

or before you touch the ground:

Remember this is a new decade of your life.

"You always build it better

the second time around."

Welcome to the big 3-0.

Welcome to the big 3-0.

Valentine's Date

You turned and said

How will we hear this music

after we leave?

The next artist

talked about the state of the world today

Now

How bad.

The magic of a moment

or its misery -

Neither remain.

After the earth

After the earth 

has shed its skin, 

I will roam its raw rebirth.


Step over steppe, 

touch over tundra,

trace channels, 

walk along waters.


I will find no death,

no war, 

no silent killers of souls - 

the secrets 

every culture, every country holds.

On a business trip

When her fire is burnt out

and in this cold taxi

and with this cold distance

I have no heat left to give her,

be Warmth

please.

Huddle against the hurtling chill

the freezer breeze brings its own kind

of charm,

candles in the night

early dark and slower Dawn

Christmas, cinnamon, steam

and all the hope we need to carry on.

For my nephew, Hudson

Some stories

have dying 

in them.

Not all stories.

Today's story did.

Some stories

you will make,

some stories

will be made for you.

All stories 

will shape you.

Some stories

have dying

in them.

All stories

have living

in them.

Most stories

have living

and then dying.

One story

has dying

and then living.

Keep looking

for the story

that has dying

and then living

and living

and living.

Toys vs. Tools

You sit in front of your toybasket.

I plop in front of my toolbox.

The two are not so different.


Toys are tools by which we enjoy

the world;

tools are toys which we employ

to build the world.

Both should be satisfying.


But when you get older 

you will find few people feel this way.

Toys are freedom

they say,

and tools are chains.


Toys are happy

they say

and tools are sad.


Find the similarity in them:

tools can be happy,

toys can be sad.

Consider your tools toys,

and your toys tools.

Show all the world its secret joys,

and call out its hidden fools.

You remind me

After exhaustion, your smile is sleep.

After turmoil, peace.

Your range of feeling is as varied as mine,

as reckless,

even as deep.

But there's a levity in your face that I have lost,

a lightweight love I long for.

On your own, you cannot walk, not even crawl,

on your own you are limited to floor.

I wonder how much there is unattainable to me

but my age deceives me into beliefs

of power, of capability.

You remind me, small movements and bones,

of my own

fragility.

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As far as I can tell.

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Listen: his infant laughter is brighter than the Summer,

even though the nights have shortened.

Someday he will speak his first word

(as far as we can tell).

As far as we can tell,

he already has.

I do not know what he knows:

I have no idea how much territory his mind has explored.

I do not know what he knows:

he has already covered ground beyond my borders,

frontiers I have not.

I have not

accepted the fact that my inability to comprehend his gaze

is a remark on his comprehension.

To become like a child:

every day a discovery,

every blink an uncovering,

every touch assumed love in it.

To become like a child:

to break the flood of our disenchantment

on the rock of clean reality

(untarnished innocence).

All was meant to remain in a realm we all revoked.

To be a parent:

to watch this come, to watch it go,

to witness a clearing of the smoke

or a smoking of the clear.

His eyes will hold envy before he ever sees it.

His heart will hurt and be hurt

before he ever knows what hit him.

To be a parent:

Front row to this Autumn Reenactment, Fall

Again, renovated wrecking ball,

nothing new under sun or cloudy skies.

I will wait until he is old enough to crawl

out from under the rubble.

He will have his eyes opened,

his youth undisguised,

then - if all goes well

if I have something to say,

as far as I can tell -

he will open his own eyes.

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That Little Beast: A Poem, By Mary Oliver

That pretty little beast, a poem, 
    has a mind of its own. 
Sometimes I want it to crave apples
    but it wants red meat. 
Sometimes I want to walk peacefully 
    on the shore
and it wants to take off all its clothes
    and dive in. 
Sometimes I want to use small words
    and make them important
and it starts shouting the dictionary, 
    the opportunities. 

Sometimes I want to sum up and give thanks, 
    putting things in order
and it starts dancing around the room 
    on its four furry legs, laughing 
    and calling me outrageous. 
But sometimes, when I'm thinking about you, 
    and no doubt smiling, 
it sits down quietly, one paw under its chin, 
    and just listens. 
 

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Seated

you are barely taller than my briefcase.

Someday you will know the till,

the thrill, the chase,

the soil underneath fingernails,

the heart as it keeps pace.

Today you wear what I wish I wore more:

a soft brow and a quiet face.

A Poem for the Morning

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I had a whole year

they told me

to decide whether I wanted 

to spend every following year

with you.

Go through every season,

till you excise any reason

for breaking us off,

they said.

I had no similar option

with our son:

9 months of wonder,

then lightning, then thunder -

we all fell down.

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Whereas you created the mold for yourself

in my heart;

he is supposed to conform to the mold

awaiting him

in my heart.

He must navigate the street around the corner,

the one where we saw him coming.

I didn’t see you coming.

These are two very different

but equal ways of loving.

(✎E 📷S)