Wednesday, December 31, 2014

taking care

There were, at the max, sixteen people at our Vermont house over Christmas, five of them under 7, the youngest 6 months. Though it is -2 degrees as I write this, we have no snow even now to speak of : rather, the freakish thaw that preceded Christmas day had made for some treacherous icy spots in our neighborhood, and for whatever reason, I began to reflect on the various falls on ice I have experienced –some epic, one leg-breaking–  and how careful I am at 72 (which I turned on 12/22) to avoid such accidents. I surmised that one compensation for advancing years is that I may have learned to be more careful with the rest of life too. An infant granddaughter in my arms enforced such a notion:


forgive me   I’m surely wrong
to think that no one’s ever seen
the likes of my oldest daughter’s daughter
only six months old
she should in fact be younger
having arrived a month too soon
though it couldn’t be too soon for me  
I hold her   healthy   on Christmas morning
our climate gone all wrong

no snow on the mountain
but for clumps here and there under trees
the green of open hay fields looking
like April    our middle daughter
is home and planning an autumn wedding
when she was this child’s age one day
I took a hike   that baby at last
in her crib    her mother drained   asleep
on Stonehouse Mountain

at height–of–land
I trod onto snow   all blank
but for a moose trail   underneath
lay ice from the past week’s freezing rain 
and down I fell but got up    unscathed
too soon our children grew and went   and
once the last of them did we walked one noon
my wife and I    along a backwoods tote road
likewise a blank stretch of land

once more I’d forgotten
to take care with my footing and tumbled
and again stood up    oh there was pain
but I escaped with a bruise
lucky not to be lame
or not so that lameness would last    for certain
my hip’s discoloration faded more slowly
than it had those years before
I’d almost forgotten

till now this wooden teething ring
shaped like a moose
which    as she babbles and squirms
the small girl gnaws   antlers to tail
my hold on her remains both gentle and firm
I know some fatherly things
or at least I hope so   I mustn’t let her fall
I take a lot of care these days 
now the kitchen windows suddenly ring

with sleet   oh which of us foresaw
this grim change in weather
it’s good in my later age to be careful
it took the melting of youth
to show me   old or youthful  
no matter   you should value care above all
though of course you may be forgiven
for not knowing that in that far-back season
when being other than young 

was something you never foresaw


  1. My heart is bursting. This is beautiful, Sweet Pop.

    1. So are you, and so is your whole family.

      Love you,