So where did that last poem come from? Did something happen between you and your daughter, you and your mom? Well no, not really, life just happened: life, reflection, time to write, and seeds of inspiration.
What was the inspiration? Well it began a month ago when my dad wanted to get his boat ready for sailing and needed help getting the sail attached to the mast. I’m not the avid sailor in the family but I was raised around boats; I know my way around a boat. My legs were a bit shaky up there on the bow but I knew what needed to be done. I even remembered the vocabulary – pins, grommets, halyard, sheets.
Swimming and boating have been part of my life since I was itty-bitty and the self-confidence I gained by being out in the water on my own is immeasurable. Sailing is a great metaphor for life – one can’t always count on fair winds so capsizing and righting a boat are one of the first lessons. While I never became as comfortable in a sail boat as my siblings did I understand and value the skills needed to read wind and water, maneuver a vessel away from land and safely back again. I taught sailing at as a camp counselor but it was the canoe that became my vehicle of choice.
When my daughter came of age, my parents enrolled her in sailing lessons and she loved them. She is the one grandchild who asks to use the boat on a regular basis. She loves to “prove” herself to grandpa.
I gave up on that a long time ago. But sustaining my mom’s and dad’s quality of life as it pertains to their home on the water is my new proving ground. All the metaphors of water I’ve come to know over the years now “float” in my mind: treading water, paddling upstream, at the whim of the tide, cast ashore, adrift, beached, stranded, bold adventure. It’s all going…. swimmingly.
Seeds of inspiration. I am touched that my daughter loves my poem and my sisters have both commented on it.
edited once again…. my poem so far – (thank you to Margie for her gentle prodding to stick with it)
I took her to the bathtub and dipped her pink toes in;
I whispered, “Baby, darling baby, feel the water on your skin!
Seek the water, go to water, and dip your whole self in,
remember this beginning, know my love will never end.”
Then off to the seashore where I plopped her in the sand,
but she ran to the water and would not hold my hand.
She had to go to water and dip her whole self in;
she looked at me, then turned away, and did it all again.
She waded and she swam, with her elders standing by;
their words of wisdom followed her, surging with the tide.
At last I had to let her go, out in the old canoe,
straight to the horizon, she paddled strong and true.
I knew she’d find a harbor and knowledge hers to keep,
I prayed she’d find a place, with water still and deep.
I whispered to the wind and the twinkling stars above,
“Baby, look at your reflection, know you’re the one I love.
My love is water, you’re my daughter, dip your whole self in,
remember the beginning, know my love will never end.”
I love to hear this story, mama, tell it once again,
about pinkies in the water and how it all began.
I’ll hold you safely, mama, while you settle in,
and wash you with the water, warm and gentle on your skin.
Then we’ll go to the beach, and walk hand in hand,
look for treasures in the tideline, write poems in the sand.
You’ve taught me well, dear mama, my waters now run deep.
I’ve found my way because of you; your wisdom’s mine to keep.
Life is quite a journey, we are two in a canoe,
paddling in the twilight, towards a deepening blue.
And when you’re gone and I’m alone, I’ll look upon the water,
and see in my reflection, the mother and the daughter.
I’ll hear you whisper, “Go to water, and dip your whole self in,
remember the beginning, and a love that never ends.”