Sunday, November 3, 2013
A Force of Proportion
"What is gravity?" my younger daughter,
only eleven, asks me while riding
in the backseat of the car home
from shopping for new shoes
with the gift card I had bought for her
as part of her birthday gift this year
and that had been weighing on her ever since.
As if that weren't enough, as well,
she follows that question
with yet another:
"What would happen if
(How do I tell her what I only barely understand
myself, so burdened and so weighted down
with cares I cannot let her see
--beyond the sleepless lines around my eyes--
or think to know in her eleven-year-old mind,
where Dad is the one who guides the car
and buys the shoes and knows the answers
to all questions,
even ones I do not know?
Especially those, maybe.)
It is not an easy thing to say to
a daughter, eleven, who thinks you are
the center of all things
still, the fount of all knowledge,
her ground that holds her and catches her
when she falls and that helps her
stand when she stands without seeing her
fly away and take off for
God knows where.
(It is a lot of responsibility, this weight of her.
She weighs nothing.
It is a lot.
She is light.)
And so I say to her all I know to say
and answer that if it weren't for such
a thing as gravity, there would be
All would be on its own, drifting and
Careening and crashing.
Gravity is what holds us
The universe. The stars.
The sun, and the planets, and the moon to the earth.
The water. The sky. And the air that we breathe.
This car to the road--rubber to pavement.
The shoes on her feet--new shoes--
to the ground.
Her hand in mine. Her heart
with mine, this old heart
(this old broken heart so patched and weak and worn)
held together with her own
and in her own,
keeping me grounded,
and from flying off to anywhere
but here with her right now.
Keeping me alive.
This is what I think but
do not say to her, my eleven-year-old daughter.
Instead I only think it and look
at the rearview mirror where I catch
her looking at me too and smiling
up at me, and I smile back
before she turns to look once more
at the new shoes dangling on her feet,
about to fall off,
and at the world of lights
and wind outside her car window,
flying away from her,