Wise Woman

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it.        --e.e. cummings

It was years ago and yesterday
You clambered up into my bed

Wearing your fuzzy footed jammies
With a book in your hands that needed reading.

I don't remember the book, there were so many:

Jabberwocks, Care Bears, Alice in her Wonderland.
The point of them was us telling stories
Funny lively stories in the morning
Scary keep-you-up-late ones in the night
Stories that lit up your green eyes
Made you ask questions
Made you trill with laughter and sometimes
To my mingled pride and shame, made you cry.

I was twelve and 
angsty and still a child

Skating on the edge of a grown world;  
You were five and followed me endlessly

Soft yellow-duck hair haloing your head
Ticklish feet, bitten nails, a penchant for Rice Krispies. 

How I loved you--fiercely, furiously, a love that wrapped itself 
So tightly around my adolescent heart I felt at times 
I'd have to scream to get it out. 

Sometimes I did and it scared you a little. 

Sometimes I protected you from others who screamed.
I tried to warn you about the world so you wouldn't get hurt
The way I was already hurt--all that made-up wisdom
I thought I possessed but didn't, all the stories I told
To scare you into not growing up.

I wanted to toughen you but you wouldn't toughen
You insisted on loving openly

You trusted, you laughed, you were real and warm
As only a child can be.

Much later, when the world finally did hurt you 
It tore me open all over again
The way it does every time
The way it feels watching someone 
Take a punch in the gut and having
No power to punch back on their behalf. 
These are the simple equations of love:
I carry your heart in my heart. When you hurt I hurt.
When you are glad I am glad.

But I am beginning to learn from you
(I see you were the wiser woman all along):
It is always worth it.
To love, to hope. To keep loving. Keep hoping.
To fall down and get up and love again, hope again,
Returning to the path you've marked for yourself.

So you don't need my raging adolescent protector.
She can keep her mouth shut while she holds your hand:
You've got this, you will make it, sister--
She can give you center stage
To love openly, to trust, to find your laughter again
To be real and warm
As only a grown woman can be.




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