She asked me yesterday for two metaphors:
"My teacher wants two of those, or even similes,"
My daughter smiled, "about us as a person."
And she shook her head and laughed:
"She's making a rather strange poem."
"Can you think Dad of two metaphors
about me?" she asked, for a happy judgment.
We were driving along Turtle Creek at that moment
Between two old Westinghouse plants,
One made airbrakes for trains, the other turbines
at the bottom of pent up river gods.
She and my other daughter are the icons
of sunrise and wind: I hear divine laughter
in their voice, even in their occasional travail.
She waited for a word, an image, a symbol
that gathered the laughter and nine months of waiting
sixteen years ago, and the stories in the night
and the forays into French cooking
and the talks on Homer and Karamazov that always verge
on theology without really knowing it,
and the gleam of future perfecting the moment.
A word, a picture was what she wanted,
and I suspected immediately that more was asked for
than the usual "swift-footed Achilles" or "grey-eyed Athena."
"My teacher called herself tough as a bear and bright as the sun,"
she coughed, derisively, expecting better of a literateur.
The old Buick engine panted up an eastern suburb hill,
into an early September evening sun and frisson of chill.
I needed quiet, in a space, to remember,
and I remembered an aspen I met on Mt. Lemmon one autumnal afternoon,
clearly seen, still, rivuleting gold in the same chill breeze,
thirty years it's been, but still and bright …
And I remembered June in the mist in our garden, early morning,
the fronds of lavender in fog silence, but singing the evocations
of aroma and peace.
I am naming my daughter again,
stretching out her name to mark her years
and to compass her direction through tears and joy
into the Day.
"You are aspen and lavender, my dear,
aspen in autumn, lavender in spring,
in mist and afternoon sun.
Joy in the evening, peace in the morning."
She nodded, and remembered forward.
And I prayed.