I wish I could meet and talk with you,
To see your faces, to see your children,
To drink with you, have coffee or wine.
What is your story? Where were you born?
What is your star? What is your compass?
I'd like to see your bedroom, your favorite book.
Do you have a favorite shirt? Where have you traveled?
What are your secret fears, your gnawing fears?
Would you rather be elsewhere? I'd like to see
Your face when you're near your mother, your father,
Your wife, your husband, your devoted dog,
Your gestures, the glint in your eye, your smile.
It would be nice to see you with a coffee cup
When a lake or the grass or a tree is waking,
Or when a car is clearing its throat on a winter morning,
Or when a few birds dart past your window,
Or when the first snowfall of the year comes
And children are up to their usual mischief.
Does something pierce your heart? What happened, my friend?
Is that why I woke up sad this morning?
It's just that you and I will die someday...
It's just that I cannot survive without you:
You made my shoes somewhere far away;
It took your knowledge, your effort, your time;
You designed my apartment, my building, the room
Is warm, the window shields me from the elements,
The shower works, the toilet works because of you.
You wove my shirts or you built the machines that weave;
I know nothing of electricity, yet there it is;
I know nothing of computer mechanics, yet the computer
Works beautifully, smoothly, and you fix them too;
I cook, but I don't grow my food, it comes from
You who packaged it, who grew it in a farm.
The apples are crisp and sweet thanks to you;
My body is comfortable and warm thanks to you;
The water is clear or nearly clear thanks to you;
I have a water purifying system thanks to you.
I learned some things, but millions of brains, your brains
Learned and learned, my friends, things I don't know.
It would have been ****** hard to smell the roses,
It would have been ****** hard to soak in birds' song,
The symphony of stars, my lover's eyes,
Without your effort, your discoveries, medicine.
In another century, I'd have died in infancy perhaps,
And varied experiences would not have smiled on me,
Would not have set on tables their bowls of fruit.
I would never have seen the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower,
The beautiful souls I met in other countries,
Without you, the builders, the designers.
And you, mother, you decided to have me...
The dawn with its vast poetic speech,
The glassy lake with its articulate silence,
My lover now who comforts and cooks for me,
Who waters a flower I never knew I had
Before I met her, were made available to me
Because of your decision and your care.
You were especially careful in what you ate
When dawn and dusk were still concealed.
When I was out screaming in the crib,
How many peaceful nights were denied you?
Every few hours witnessed you
In my room, changing diapers, giving milk.
You sheltered me, bought clothing, and for a while
I was your world, your dawn, your night, you scarcely knew another,
And your love would not be overcome, sweet mother.
While I grew and grew inviting as many troubles
As a clear summer night does the stars,
You extricated me, you'd always come;
For all your anger, your love was not overcome.
For every shadow you may have cast
Where lines of irritating ants crawled like redundant arguments,
You shone ten beams or kindnesses,
You showed me *** knows how many gardens.
For a few years the winters had claimed you,
You woke up to a twilight wind, bony fingers of bush
Scratching the kitchen window. You went to a job
You could scarcely tolerate, the place was far away,
And at the time I didn't know or care to know
Of your anxieties and dissatisfactions,
Though shuffling your cards as you did
In the wan light of the kitchen made me suspect...
I remember the evenings when you'd come
With your burden, yet your love was not overcome...
You did this when I thought I had problems,
When I was snubbed by a girl or dejected
By the fact a girl lived too far away,
Dejected because of some low test scores,
Because I thought the pimples drove the girls away.
You did it when I was convinced of my cleverness,
When I was convinced I understood the world
In a way that you and father hadn't.
How many meals of yours had I not savored,
The ingredients of which you bought?
How many times did I find clean shirts, underwear,
A clean room and thought it was my due,
While sometimes, to my friends, I criticized you?
Father, yours was a tougher kind of love...
It was a love in which doubt played a part.
You doubted my abilities, you doubted my strength.
You thought my mother's love was sending me to the grave.
Pillows and feathers couldn't teach me to be brave.
I was too self-enclosed, and you were right...
It may be you never supported my passion,
Yet each denial or doubt made me stronger,
Each harsh word, really, gave birth to a bird
That would skirt the bright blue with poetic speech.
I complained that you never understood.
Yet I never understood you, I just thought I did.
From a comfortable room I sifted through
Your stories, thinking stories make the man,
Thinking descriptions are reality,
As if the word "rose" is in fact the rose,
As if the word "dawn" can help one drink the dawn.
And what could I really know of grinding it out
In post World War Two Russia, shifting about?
You had supporters, but you were hurt too.
You got to know anxiety a little too well.
But I, being the conceited child, thought:
Aha! But I would have done otherwise!
Where comforts abound, a fanciful Otherwise
Gets bloated, ingratitude assuming a spider's eyes.
You - you took me traveling, I remember France
Most vividly: we descended the building's quiet stairs,
The lobby carpet conveying a musty smell,
Strangely endearing, and crossed where the light had fell
Like a geometric dream, walking out to the song of birds,
To leaping architecture and buzzing cars,
As though we may have been Adam's first words.
We took a taxi to Paris' heart,
To a street where bold awnings were, tinkling glasses,
Rippling words, waiters shuffling to and fro,
Where linear lawns dreamt manes of grasses,
And tourists were taking photos or on the go.
We had brunch, crossed a bridge: All was wonder...
The blue trance of sky served sun of elation,
Served sweetness, delicious disorientation,
As we walked, radiating the city's heart,
Toward the Louvre museum, royalty of art.
The spirits of gods congregated there.
The walls unfurled heavens of the ages,
The sufferings, visions of seers and sages,
And I nearly swooned in the rarefied air...
When we passed lawns dreaming manes of grasses,
Returned to the apartment for a while,
When I saw your nod and approving smile,
And you began preparing for your master classes,
Playing Bach slowly, stirringly on the violin,
My calling whispered to me from within...
Father, though much those few days had unfurled,
It didn't yet hit me, it didn't yet hit me
It was thanks to you I was shown a world...
What is this feeling? Is it embarrassment? Shame?
To think of my fellow beings who taught me languages,
To think of all the teachers I had who gave their time,
To think I was difficult and I scoffed,
To think I regarded affection and comfort as just my due,
To think how many unknown fellow beings
Nurtured me, enriched me, helped me to survive...
The sun is setting, and for a moment it stares...
A few petals swirled on a winding trail
With a creaking gate, are the thoughts of twilight...
How much have I given back?