Liz Garton Scanlon (liz_scanlon) wrote,
Liz Garton Scanlon

Poetry Friday - Is it Enough?

Do you know how it is when, for days on end, all your conversations seem to converge?

The same book mentioned in three different contexts?

A scientific phenomonen you've never heard of -- on the radio, in a novel and discussed at a dinner with friends?

You, lost on the way to an appointment, your neighbor, lost on the way to a funeral and your child, afraid of getting lost?

It is as if all paths lead you to the same nut, one you're clearly meant to crack and dig into, little by little, until you've gotten the very meat out and are satisfied.

Satisfied, mind you, doesn't necessarily mean figured out.

My deepest lessons of the past decade, as a mother and a writer and a person, have been around acknowledging that very little is actually ever figured out or finished. Rather, there are moments of utter vividness, of joy, of understanding. And those serve as stepping stones to the next moments, some of which are equally lovely, but some of which are confusing, dark and scary.

Just when I thought I had things truly pegged, too. Dang. But I am in process. Before I know it, there are other moments. New paths. The number of nuts to crack is infinite. Which, granted, can be terrifying but also, sometimes, a keen comfort and relief.

This week, I talked with a friend about the internet and ended up on the subject of children, growing up.
I spoke with someone else about academic testing and ended up on the subject of children, facing life.
I listened to a podcast, read a news article, attended a meeting, and each time, in each place, there were these profound and poignant details that spoke directly to me about children, coming of age.

What a nut. What a daunting stockpile of nuts.
It reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago, when I had babies.
I thought I'd share it today...


Details of Devotion

Your first-year molar, three

of the four cusps cut through gummy

velvet, pursy as a jewelry bag


Your fingers dexterous as a nibbed pen

the precision with which you worry

the flesh of my arm as you fall asleep


Three thick creases in each leg

the one mid-thigh, deep and laughing

two shorter, fuller ones near your knees


Toes soft white and tender – a row

of tiny scallops at the end

of each round foot


And I could go on, I’d like to

with details so minute and sublime

my breath catches like teeth on a zipper


But there is a world to attend to

terrible news and sorrows

Mothers everywhere wonder:

She can run now,

she can feed herself.

Is it enough?



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