I'm at the beach all week, so a few of the most wonderful and amazing women I know have offered to keep you company. Chelsea is a beautiful, talented poet and she's one of the best, most honest and kindest people I know. Please give her lots of love and visit her blog, from the mouth of a mother to read more of her writing.
listening to bright eyes tonight on the living room floor while i reflect on years of parenting (and such a small fraction of parenting years they are), i expected to come here with something prolific to say. i listened to this album (i'm wide awake it's morning) so much, two years ago, sitting at my kitchen table in my first apartment when i had more than enough words for a thousand books. i have sangria in a mason jar that stirs memories, a string of awkward dates and unfamiliar lovers, summer and short hair and the fire escape or mother's day dinner cooked by my best friend who never forgot, he was my best friend then, and a cup of coffee from beezy's that i can still taste from a strange morning when i was up early and my clothes were in a bag at my side.
this is the first day of my life.
sometimes i think i don't know her, that she escaped from my gut and in the years that have passed she's forgotten or lost the biological ties, what does 'mama' mean? mama-who-takes-care-of-me, she says. sometimes i think she's a stranger, and i think that i just want her to like me.
sometimes i look at her and i forget that her dad's face is there too, i look for mine and i count the freckles, measure the length of her face, and i think her dad is a shape shifter, his face lengthening on certain nights and spreading across the horizon on others.
sometimes i forget to put my nose in front of hers and i stand over her instead.
sometimes i wish we were caterpillars stuck in the same cocoon, waiting for freedom and reveling in the silk.
instead, she tells me to get my arm off of her and she throws herself across the floor-bed, i'm cold i'm itchy i'm hungry i'm thirsty i can't sleep i want something in the whichever room is farthest or maybe the garage, and then she says softly, "why can't i say shoot you dead?"
see, she came home with a squirt gun and wanted to shoot me dead, and her daddy pulled all the threads of the earth together and explained gently that it wasn't funny, and she listened.
she listened and repeated it back.
and then, she asked me why. i told her it was because sometimes people shoot other people to kill them, and i thought before i spoke and wondered if my words would shake her little body like thunder, but she looked at me and blinked her pretty eyes and didn't say a word; i told her we would use it for fun, and that we would say "squirt squirt, i got you!" instead of "i shot you dead." see, sometimes people use their hands when their insides are about to explode and you know, we have opposable thumbs, we need to grab something, we need to hold on, and when we can't hold on to eachother, we hold on to something that mutilates, manipulates.
i thought about our hands, my hands, my mangled hands and his fingertips that press against each of my nails.
i thought about the way that every single word on this album tugs at the strings of my heart like a harp and that maybe they might be good wedding songs, and she says "grandma gave me a ring in a box at daddy's house with a dia...diam...a circle." i asked if it fit her, and she said no, it was too big. i thought about the rings we might find tomorrow or the dozens i have saved, i thought about his hands, i thought about the face i've only seen naked once before and it's strange to see a different face on the man you've hoped is your everyday forever, strange but satisfying, it's good to know the face of the one you'll wake up to a few thousand more times. twenty one thousand more times, if we lived another 60 years together.
i told an 87 year old woman tonight to go to calder's dairy farm, the farm that puts the milk in glass bottles. i wondered if she would, i wondered if she could make it there alone, i wondered if she was alone. she told me she couldn't change the blade on her lawn mower, but other than that she was totally self-sufficient and she's lived in her house since 1959 and i thought god, i hope i have the mind to speak like this when i'm 87. i hope i'm alive when i'm 87, 60 years and some twenty one thousand mornings from now. she's a customer i've seen more times than i can count, nearly every day that i've worked. i had half a thought to take her there myself.
i wrote because of the empty; how do you write the good stuff when you're full?
this is the first day of my life. from the mouth of a mother, in print.