I bank my days in the eyes of this child.
We are peeping long in a hallway mirror.
We are sweatpant sham and sideshow circus,
All chirps and eyeballs and lyric and grin.
His surprise appears for the millionth time today.
He is of me and a mystery.
We star in this silver serial
As I notice the need for Windex in the corner
As he grabs a fistful of charm
And rubs it into the bags beneath my eyes.
We are silk skin and old grey scruff
Both of us bald and dancing and
Poor as western soil, and
Our mouths part the universe
As we crack each other up.
He laughs at himself, at me,
At the falseness of our faces.
He smashes cheek against stubble
And I laugh a laugh that makes him laugh
He laughs his laugh because
He finds me funny.
I laugh my laugh because
That’s what I do when I find myself
Dueling mystery in a mirror,
Failing in reason, consumed
By the crippling crush of arriving
A step or two closer to understanding
Something about the deepest cut
Of love. I old, he young. We laugh. And laugh.
And the darkness falls a step or two behind.
*I recently stumbled across this poem which I wrote when my oldest son (now 7) was about 15 months old. When he cried in the inexplicably desperate way that babies sometimes do, I would often carry him to the long hallway mirror and he would catch a glimpse of us in that mirror and his tears would change to giggles. He was given a chance to laugh at our silliness, I was given a chance to stare at our tangled cluster of arms and faces, and revel in the wonder of it and to bask in the relief that came from the end of his tears.
We spent a lot of time in front of that mirror.