Someday Her Song Will Fall Silent
“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.” —Rumi
Five minutes in and she’s just getting started.
Her sweet voice dipping into something quieter
when she doesn’t know the words. She doesn’t care,
when I try to fill in the missing parts
she puts her hands over her ears and continues on,
singing it the way I imagine she must hear it.
And, as if tapping out the notes,
she punctuates the air with her fingers
half dancing through the kitchen.
Who knows how long she will go on for
or how many songs she will mangle
and mash together, like taking the wrong turn
on a path that splits. I ask her to stop,
and smile as when she turns it up, I realize
someday her song will fall silent.
Not all at once though, but gradually
it will taper off as she grows,
get lost in her memory somewhere,
or she’ll leave it behind one day on her way to school.
And she won’t remember to pick it back up.
So I’ll have to go looking for it; in her backpack,
at the bus stop, or somewhere on the playground
where she might have dropped it
to run off and play with her friends at recess.
I’ll search the hallways after hours
and give up having not found
what’s not meant for me to find.
Anyway, she’ll already have turned away,
as all children do, as we all must have
at some point, leaving behind a silence
more frustrating than all the wrong
words stuck in your head
and songs it seems won’t end.
The Simple Way of Her
For my daughter Andaluzja Akhmatova
She holds her right arm above her head in a gentle arc. Her fingers form a pinching gesture and her wrist turns inward as if she is about to spin a top. In her excitement she is up on her toes and stumbles forward a bit. She is wearing a new dress and, as with all her new dresses she is testing the twirl. A pirouette. And then another. And another. One after another until she is tired and stops, holding her arms out to the sides of her proclaiming her doneness with a brilliant “Ta-dah!” She is satisfied with the function of her dress. A good twirl will fill the short skirt of it with air and its lift lifts her. Sends her spinning into her own realm of things beautiful. And this is the way of her. The simple and often awkward way of her. And it is why I imagine she refuses to see the ugliness that lies around her. Around all of us. She spins and it all blurs into something streaked with streamers and awe. And it is why I enjoy watching her, and for now try not to think about how as she grows that ugliness will begin to seep in. She will spin and become dizzy with flashes of it as it breaks through. And at some point she will stop. But for now I try not to think about how she will stop spinning and how she will eventually walk forward and face what we all must face. Her dresses will begin to have a new function. They will tighten around her, their silhouette will form to her body and would no longer lift so easy in the air if she tried them. I try not to think about that. About how and why she will forget to quit trying them. And not ask her what was beautiful she saw in them. For what it is to her is easy. Unnameable but easy. And for now, just remember what is simple. A dress with a good twirl, that lifts her.
Somewhere a Place
I wanted to leave
something there for you
to find, the wings of a dragonfly
strung under a small tree
a glint of light against dark bark,
to go there before you,
to mark a trail
with what is small.
Sticks that have grown
less ordinary and curious
as a curl of smoke.
But it is a somewhere
we disappear into
by way of the light
shift of wind
through our held hands.
It is a place
I could not go