April 16 2017
To those of you who celebrate Easter, happy Easter! Today is the end of my Lenten practice of writing something creative–usually a poem–each day. I discovered that I was capable (and enjoyed) most of it. Saturdays/weekends were the most fraught days, since often I was getting home too late to have much headspace for words. This insight–that I most enjoy playing with language in the mornings–is not terribly novel for me. More worth noting was that I could still, on most evenings, enjoy the writing practice. So my allergy to writing in the evenings turns out to be mostly a habit, not a fact.
I am finding myself asking now, here, at the end of Lent, what it means to celebrate Easter within a secular framework. Throughout Lent I thought about and worked on sacrifice and commitment as practices of meditation or reflection. But Easter shouldn’t be, I think, a leave-taking of all of that. To the degree that Easter and spring arrive hand-in-hand, I feel like Easter should be, for me, about honoring my practices, my failures, my attempts and moving forward into renewal.
Longue Durée of Goodbyes
On the plane we sit waiting for takeoff.
He’ll be leaving soon, all on his own. This trip
is one domino in what will be a short chain
of dominos, one toppling the other
until the last one tumbles
and he leaves.
Parenting is the longue durée of goodbyes.
I can remember, through blurry photographs,
a time when he never left my side when he slept
on my chest when he curled into my ribs
when he ran to me after missing me
for five minutes.
Year by year I know less about him,
his smile like the Cheshire cat’s.
I ask him questions exactly like those
that my parents asked me. He answers
exactly as I did, mocking my need
to know and building his brick wall.
When he offers me tidbits of information,
these glimpses of the man-in-the-making,
I try to be restrained. Don’t scare him with my
need to know, my motherly voraciousness, my
expectation that he still be five with no boundaries
that keep me out; I tell myself don’t say a word. Listen.
There are windows in his brick wall, the way
he teaches me his cultural vocabulary or smiles
when we joke around and the way we sing
together on the street and he forgets to be embarrassed
as his bass and my soprano call and respond and soar.
On the plane, I extend my hand for the in-flight magazine.
I intend to sudoku until we take off. He keeps
the magazine, turns to the crossword puzzle, takes my pencil,
and starts to solve it. He asks me about a clue. I lean in
and we fill in the blanks together.