A poem for you

Between these lines is a poem
The words are, by turns, wise, foolish and always beautiful.
They are the instructions you need
To live this life.

These spaces describe your first memories:
The sound of branches groaning in the wind,
The smell of your father’s shoes,
How tears tasted and felt.

Here is the first dream you thought worth writing down,
The first verse you committed to memory,
A list of the lies you told to get out of trouble,
An explanation of the animal you chose
For a totem and how it chose you.

Between these lines is a tale of tragedy,
Of hilarity, the telling of your first kiss,
Your first betrayal, the first time
You felt different. And why.

Next you tell when your parents failed you
and how you learned to forgive them.
You list all your teachers, beginning
With the one you could not charm who taught you the most.
This space names the birds at your grandmother’s feeder
And describes the sound of your grandfather’s snoring.

These numbers count the times you were forgiven
For ignorance, malice and sheer stupidity.

This is the list of the countries you visited,
the ones you went back to see again underlined .
Next follows a list of the friends you had and kept. First names and last.
Another names the trees that surrounded your house.
This shaky cipher numbers the times you wished you could touch
Your mother’s cheek one more time.

These spaces describe the smell of your child’s hair,
How her hand felt in yours when you slept in the same bed,
Here is the first sentence he uttered about the moon and
a figure for the times you wished you could still
Hold her in your lap or caress his hair without rejection.

Between these lines is a story.
It is at times comical, at times confusing,
But it is yours.
I started it for you. Now it’s your turn.


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