Hello, friends. It’s good to be back here today to share a poem.
I began writing this one six years ago, during a short stint of homeschooling our daughters after we moved across the country. But then the kids returned to school, I started a new job, and I never quite got around to finishing it.
The world has changed dramatically since then, in terrifying and grievous ways. Or, the actual truth: daily threats to health and safety have always burdened many people, and now these threats have begun intruding on the bubble of racial, economic, and historic privilege that I live in. The world feels like it’s coming apart at the seams, and it’s become painfully clear how shoddy the seams are.
I’m sharing this poem today because its theme — the challenge of gaining perspective when you can’t get a change of scenery — resonates for me now just as much as it did when I was homeschooling by choice. But I also need to acknowledge that being at home with my kids during a pandemic is an expression of my privilege.
Whether you’re on the front lines as an essential worker or in a state of lockdown at home, this is my hope for all of us: that we may see growth in spite of the repetitive duties of our lives. And that we may be graced with small, sweet moments of human connection in spite of ourselves and our coping mechanisms.
Mark a sapling’s new growth
by watching the backdrop,
not the tree.
Find signs of change
not in isolation, but in the relation
of stem to ground, leaf to air,
and branches to canopy.
She’s growing fast this year,
but it’s easy to miss —
since she fills your field of vision,
stitched as close as your shadow,
eclipsing the landscape.
Some days, to generate space,
you stop looking her in the eye.
She still needs much tending.
In the evening, you stand behind her
and brace her head with your belly.
She tips back, all neck and open beak
like a featherless hatchling,
so you can take a brush
to her teeth.
She fidgets against your trunk.
Note how the crown of her head
now grazes your sternum.
You meet her gaze again, at last —
then watch! — from upside-down,
her round eyes bend
into two small grins.