Small in a way is every life, something
littler than the thought of the life itself. We go through,
we move on, we are, and eventually
expire, yet in that smallness we find
the only greatness, that steam
that moves us forward into the only life we have and
allows us to see ourselves as
something worth living for.
Every life is an eggshell, colored
blue, and so light and fragile that the smallest intake
of air could suck it in and crush it.
We live within the possibility
of breaking, dying, leaving what
there is for something that isn’t at all but calls us to it,
and the moments of life are too few
so our role is to multiply and go forth.
Welcome to your life, my only daughter,
and so beautiful that swans blush at their ugliness when
compared to you. This game you’ll now
play is hard, to live a life as two, but
it is the only life you are allowed, so
you are required, as if you had made an oath with the blood
of your father, with the menses of
your mother, to live it well and full.
I am reminded at times, and usually
by myself, that I am not the usual kind of father intent on
avoiding the word menses, because I am
of the world and blood, of the ways of
breathing and making sounds of that
breathing, I am intent on making and living with the body
and with the mind, I am waiting
impatiently for your life to begin.
Twenty-six years and most of my life
ago, you were born after a day and a half of labor and
your mother working that whole time
and nine months more to make you,
because we had a life to live and needed
you there, crying for food, peeing little puddles onto the carpet,
and we needed not to sleep and to walk
the colic out of you for months of trying.
Give what you can to sacrifice but only
to make a life that you can live more than happily, and secure.
You can give only something up to make
something more from it, and continuous,
a form of life that seems suited to kindness
and joy, because the two cannot be separated to live a life worth
the effort of breathing. There are not enough
years to set aside a few for meanness and sadness.
What can you make? What can you do? What
can you hope to carry through a life long enough to make that life?
Life isn’t sitting or hoping. It is running and
doing, and running so hard you laugh
all the way. Life isn’t about yourself. It’s about
you and the people you touch and the way you touch them and how
you make something out of your life that is more
than you yet entirely you, something only you are.
I am not really a father, in some ways, being
relegated to the job of comedian, poet, worker, maker, and always
the thinker, but I am your father and the only one
you’ll ever have. When Jimmy marries you, he
marries my daughter, on a fragrant October
day, when the leaves are slowly rotting into soil, and that sharp wet
scent tells us all we need to know about life.
You are alive, in your body and your smile,
in a seemingly permanent summer, but
you will marry in autumn, a time of reflection, a time of preparation
for the long cold winter that we cannot
escape, but if you live long enough, if you
struggle hard enough, you may make it
back to spring, and you will learn that this is your moment in time
and it extends for years. I love you,
my only and beautiful daughter.