Open Book

I have a lot to learn. And you teach me every day.

You, so close to your babyhood that I can still see
the crease in your neck where baby fat folded over,
Now stretched tall with a hint
of the woman to come in that chin/nose/cheekbone.

You, when secure in love
In knowing the person in front of you wants the best for you
Whether it’s me, your teacher, the babysitter, another mother volunteering, your entire class —

You tell it all.

You share all the details, you explain everything.
You give intimate family news out
like candy.
Why wouldn’t you tell the world?
You’re proud. And you love to see the looks on their faces,
to bring them into our life, our love.

I gather all these things to my chest,
believing if I keep them there,
secret and safe,
it won’t hurt as much if it all falls apart
if my worst fears are realized
if my deepest hopes are dashed.

(Of course, that’s not exactly true. Or in any way true.)

Then at school events or the grocery store I get the questions
and the stories
and the details told back to me, exactly
as I’ve whispered to you
in your bed
at night.

Guarding myself against my own words
in the mouth of an almost-stranger
I wince at the way it feels like a vice
in my heart,
prying it open, letting someone see
the depth of my hope and the height of my fear.
It doesn’t feel like love when I’m so exposed
and afterward I feel naked —
ashamed.

You beam up at me, happy
that you spread the love around,
that so many people
now hope and dream with us.
And if it all falls apart,
they’ll help us carry our pain, too.

I have a lot to learn. And you teach me every day.