Family Life - Poem by Daniel Brick
All of us, every single
one of us will be an orphan.
We will remember our parents,
recall the spring morning
our father showed us the yellow
beginning of each blade of grass,
just where it arises out of dark
ground into the light. We bent closer
to see that sunsplash of yellow, hardly
believing a field of green could harbor
such a secret. That is a happy memory,
I smile when I recall it. Don't you too
smile? And then there was the Saturday
I helped my Mom bake two loaves of thick
white bread. I don't remember what I did,
probably just chattered about childish
things as she labored in the kitchen.
Still my smiling presence made her happy,
and that night at supper she told Dad,
"Your son helped me make our daily bread."
Our family life begins at that moment
when mother'scries are surpassed
as the new life suddenly slips
into the world and her pain becomes
rejoicing. This is not the last time
pain and joy will overlap. Such is our
human fate: we live within opposites,
and choose the sweeter of the two.
Father looks on in pride, and mother
laughs as their new-born cries his need
for their love.
So begins the cycle of life in love,
parents and children sharing the most basic
family bonds of growth and education,
of happy appointments over time and,
yes, disappointments, too. Time will rush
us through our mortality so much faster
than we desire. Still in our hearts' depth
we will say, "My father filled my mind
with purpose, my mother listened to me
in a room free of worry."
But a poet I love and trust has already
written, "There was never a parent
kept alive by a child's love."
How will I, no, how will WE cope
with this blunt truth? Do we make
ourselves as hard as fate, or do we
surrender to the sorrow of loss?
Oh, we must be choose the sweeter
choice: our parents rejoiced
in an abundance of love when we were born;
let us rejoice in an abundance of grief
when they die. The circle closes and ascends
to some higher space of being.
(The poet is Louise Gluck, the poem is "Adult Grief" in her early collection, THE TRIUMPH OF ACHILLES. I have followed her throughout her career, for the past five decades. Her poems are luminous, whether they deal with the dark fate or the light fate of being human. She has written the necessary poems for my life to be complete.)
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