Belonging (Age 30)


In a short while,
I will tell my daughter she isn’t mine; that she
and the universe
are the reason she is breathing. This will scare her. 
When she feels small, I will tell her that she is small;
I will show her things to scale so she never feels too great,
but tiny and insulated
by galaxies, earth, animals and flora; she'll be warm.
Her hands, cold and nervous.

When she trips, I will pick her up;
the fall is painful enough, never mind the getting-back-up:
scuffs on her pants; rickety legs; a wet face, blotchy and red.
She is just beginning to hide that face. Her hands,
tucked in her sleeve. She will avoid eye contact.
I will begin asking her to “just try.”

She will be grounded, but,
predisposed to cynicism.
First, exuberant and glad.
At a certain point, she’ll come home from school and ask,
“What’s matter?” My palm in the air will paint a circle:
--“Nothing and everything,” I’ll say, wiping dust,
history from my eye.

She will go to high school,
learn subtleties like half-smiles,
then college, asking too many
rhetorical questions
about existential issues.

One day, I will find her in bed
with the curtains drawn. In her eyes,
I will see the earth,
there will be space
and no language,
no fossils, antiquity.

She will tell me, “everything's the matter.”

Left with her own thoughts, sitting on her front porch,
a neighborhood stranger, about 11, will walk by her -
backpack stuffed, never making eye contact –

except for the last day that she sees her.
Someone's cliché will arise within,
that "what we see when we view a gaze,
is the universe."

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