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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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Oh, Liz. This is exquisite. And sharp as a left hook at the end. I'm reeling.

Tanita Says:

Ach. Even though I'm only an auntie -- that just leaves me reeling. I worry that question to myself from afar now.

*swoons while wiping tears away*

Liz, that is one powerful, wonderful piece of writing. Lovely and heartbreaking and true.

Ditto on the exquisite, reeling, lovely and heartbreaking. What a gorgeous, gorgeous piece of writing.

...to the convergence of topics (I had an experience with, of all things, solipsism, recently http://yatyeechong.blogspot.com/2008/08/solipsism-times-three.html),

...to acknowledging that very little is figured out,

...your poem and deep love that comes through in the details.

I'm basking in speechless wander which makes it hard to comment. Thanks. Jacqueline.

Oh Liz how wonderful! That ending brings sharp quick tears. And what sweet descriptions of your little one. Beautiful how it all comes together.

Beautiful poem. I'm an overprotective mom who misses the baby days!
Kelly Polark

Is it ever enough? So true. Parenting, the open wound.


Liz, that is truly beautiful.

Is It Enough?

Elaine M.


That's a lovely poem--one to which I think all mothers could relate. The ending really hits home.

My favorite line:

"my breath catches like teeth on a zipper"

Love it. Both the blog entry and the poem. Thanks for starting my Friday off on a somewhat sentimental teary yet lovely note. Jen

Have mercy, that is beautiful, Liz. You moved me to tears, too.


Oh, you ALL are too, too kind. I'm always so reticent to post old poems -- too easy to see what should be changed and how I'd do it differently now. But sometimes it's best to just take a breath and throw it out there...

So thankful Sara pointed me toward your blog.

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