Early evening now, thinking back,
my eye on the fading light,
eye of the needle, eye of the storm,
eye of the tiger–
sometimes you learn how to fight
and sometimes to yield;
sit down in a field, punch a clock,
punch the wall, throw up your hands,
or just lay your weary body down to cry.
Compassion grows from pain well-tended,
but be sure to turn it over in the spring
as the geese return.
love and loss holding hands,
jumping rope, hopscotching
on the chalk-dusted sidewalks
of abandoned neighborhoods
where your own little girl ghosts still play.
In the fading light,
their figures faint, gay even, skipping
to a song only they can hear.
I’ve wrapped myself around such bodies.
Some have outgrown or outwitted me,
others outwore their welcome
and for some, I still grieve.
I will never forget the night I was sick,
when my mother climbed under the covers
to curl her body around mine
until my choppy breathing
slowed and I fell asleep.
That comfort, a mother’s arms,
a woman’s arms, a child resting:
Sometimes we fight
and sometimes we yield.
The lion and the lamb touch noses
for a moment, then part ways.
And all these pathways
criss and cross like so many freeways,
helixes of memory and light,
mothers and children
forever weaving together and apart.
My heart, for all its aching,