The Forsythia

The forsythia blossoms open
in a brilliant gold we haven’t seen since last year.
I notice the shape the two large shrubs make in the world.
It is a lopsided, arching sort of shape
cut to make room for the babes to run into
and hide and giggle and squabble and babble beneath.

We try to make the top and sides flat and square
while keeping the middle rounded, a comforting
nook, half tunnel, half cave.

Every Spring I judge the spindly branches protruding from the front, back, top, and sides and think,
“We’ve not done very well.”

This year I’m deciding to observe
how lovely the center is, notched out and smooth.
The branches staying back and keeping the space sacred for the children to play in.

This year I’m deciding to remember that during pruning time each season
we have a little one pulling at our pant legs crying,
or one we are chasing away from the extension cord,
or one we are teaching how to steady the ladder
while we are trying to stay calm and not swear.

It seems we have sacrificed perfection for play,
tension for tranquility,
stress for serenity.
I am not sad to see the imperfection,
but rather, bolstered to find
that even in some tiny way,
we have loved well.

I look forward to finding how the forsythia look in the Fall
and next Spring. I hope to find them
more lopsided
more silly
more wild.

Walking Notes

We’re walking along and walking along and nothing much changes.
And all of a sudden we melt because everything feels horrible
and we cry about our socks not fitting right,
something we wouldn’t have cried about yesterday.

My little one went all to tears the other day.
I said her namely loudly, exasperated.
She belted out through her sobs, “Sometimes life is hard!”

I spun around to face her, surprised by what she said.
Something melted in me, too, and let go
so I could see things differently,
like the way the red cardinal breaks the monotony
of a dreary day, a relief, and a release
into a fresh reality.

We hugged, because that makes things okay again.
We walk along and walk along and not too much changes,
though gratefulness comes to rest on my spirit
like a red cardinal on the grey chain-link fence.

to be happy with

When my fourth baby is a few months old
I lie with my back on the floor,
fingers reaching one way, toes the other, and the hem of my shirt pulls away from the waistband of my pants.
My three-year-old daughter who kneels beside me asks,
“Why is your belly so wrinkly?”
My immediate shock and surprise fade, and I mentally leap into a readily available pit of despair. Then I offer her a cursory explanation of skin’s elasticity and the effects of multiple pregnancies,
and gravity.
And, as if she hasn’t listened to a word I’ve said,
“It’s Beautiful!”

That fourth little babe is now over a year old
and wouldn’t you know he blows the best raspberries on that wrinkly old skin there ever was.