You’re beautiful, although you do your best
to broadcast unattractive with your style:
the glaring hair, attire always messed,
and indignation overruling smile.
My parents sang to me the same old song,
and I contested angrily like you,
and even though I knew my folks were wrong,
I caught a bit of wisdom from their view.
Now I don’t think your image summons those
with whom I wish you’d never socialize –
it’s your own hair, and sure you can compose
yourself – but if you choose to cross your eyes,
my mom says “Watch it! You might freeze that way”
(for habits of expression tend to stay).
(Another Attempt to Capture a Dream Lesson)
Because she fears the basement so, her dreams
keep sending her on errands to the place.
Then tension always mounts, because it seems
the light no longer works – she’s forced to face
her way in darkness to that underworld.
And then she finds no stairway to descend –
she steps and falls abysmally. She’s hurled
inside a lightless depth that has no end.
But she has mulled and learned and has prepared
herself to comprehend the drop’s a dream –
a phantom fall that cannot make her scared –
a hurtless hurtle through the land of seem.
As she forsakes her fear, the bowl of blight
inverts to blue, and lofts her like a kite.
Embarrassment’s a universal fear –
the nightmare and the bogeyman of youth
that seems to find more nourishment each year,
and changes shape but ever covers truth.
For anyone who’d stake an honest claim
to ethical and wise maturity,
avoidance of embarrassment builds shame;
embracing it’s the path to purity.
When we look back, the choices we regret
are those that we for awkwardness declined.
The malady infests if we forget
how hesitation holds the heart behind.
The wisest thing my mother ever said?
You can’t grow up unless your face gets red.
I’ll give you one opinion, girls and boys,
that I with age increasingly believe:
a psyche broadcasting makes so much noise,
it overwhelms the power to receive.
“I know, I know,” asserts the egotist,
and thereby blocks the avenue to learn,
for wisdom offered any way is missed
by senses too preoccupied to turn
and take the offering – they’re put instead
to tasks of self-protective affectation.
They’re used to fence the heart and wall the head,
blockading any path to revelation.
If you want answers you can recognize,
you’d better listen for the soft replies.
We talk to babies with a curling tongue
and rounded lips; we read them fairy tales,
corral them in a chorus when they’re young,
and try for something every parent fails
to keep: the power to control their taste.
Asserting memory best not believed,
disdaining current music, parents waste
authority on what can’t be achieved.
When I was young, nobody told the truth
to me; adults refused to answer me
when I investigated God. Regret
was on the grownups, who had traded youth
to fight (or bide) the world’s hostility.
I needed answers then. I want them yet.
The other night, she asked her little one,
who’s near as tall as she at twelve years old,
“So now that you’ve become the perfect son,
whatever shall we work upon?” She told
the therapist as much, so all agreed
to meeting less, and with a happy sigh
she thought “My job is done – there isn’t need
for more from me – it’s okay if I die.”
That perfect son last night put off his math
to watch a show and play, and facing it
with little time, he leaked a bit of wrath,
responded to her helping with a fit,
and finally he yelled that she’s a jerk.
He showed her they’re not done. She still has work.
I had to question everything I’d seen
or heard, about the way to parent well.
Instead I wandered memory to glean
the particles of rearing I’ll now tell.
I disagree with those who advocate
enriching kids with lessons after school,
distracting them from boredom, toting weight
for them, implying fairness is a rule.
What kids deserve is truth and empathy,
for they’re enduring challenges momentous,
difficult and strange: each has to be
(for 20 years) a human-being apprentice.
The fact is if you want the best results,
instead of rearing children, raise adults.