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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Letter to Daughter


Daughter, you demanded, at the very beginning, a test. I modeled for you. I knew the straps, the fasteners, everything. “Oh my god,” you said. “You’re not kidding, are you?”

You said, “I gotta think about this.” You thought. You gave a doll that first Christmas: a princess in pink.

You gave shampoo and conditioner, in separate bottles. You gave advice. You gave silver bangles. You grew up, turned eighteen, emptied the nest.

I have had children in the house, off and on, 37 years. I don’t understand this silence. I am working on your room, for guests. Under the carpet there are broken tiles; there is re-sealing to do, spackling, paint. I feel freer now; no strange youths walk through at late hours. I wear my new painter’s kit: bandanna, stretch jeans, camisole -- speckled, spotted, something out of Pollock. I am less free out of doors, but learning to relax.

The mail carrier has seen a new name come to our box, as friends and organizations seek me out. The neighbors catch on.

I go to the garden in capris and wide-brimmed hat, collecting chives and bok choi for stir fry. I’m wearing lipstick. I’m careful with my nails. I watch out for the sun. I pull a dozen weeds. There are tomatoes, enough to bring in some.

I hear geese. They pass, heading for the river, in line, talking ripe corn. I wonder when you will call. I wonder if trout are rising. I wonder if the Red Sox will take the Series. I think about putting in beets next spring. I think about C.P.E. Bach and Haydn. I think of your offer to go camping.

I think about asking you to be there when I get my ears pierced.

The mail carrier passes by. She waves.

-- risa b

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