5:30 a.m. and inside the house
my daughter sleeps, the younger one
still in school, who wishes she’d wake up emancipated
with at least enough money to buy
a good used car. Last night on the way home,
steering wheel loose in her hands as if she’s been
driving for years, she says: You won’t be mad
if I’m not around much this summer?
as if her new job and impeccable knowledge
of green lights and stop signs is all she needs to know
to live in the world. My sigh silent as the dusk,
the words in my throat blue as the curve of stars
slipping down from that place she has yet to go,
I think of leaving home at 16, the work
as mind-numbing as the pot I smoked to get by,
an old black and white TV flickering hope in the corner.
I imagine my daughter pacing her room late at night
conjuring her boyfriend’s face, a sad-eyed blonde kid
who always looks as if he just woke up. The dirty clothes
and wrinkled papers on the floor won’t stop the velocity
or direction of her steps. I wonder when the clock sped up,
I write letters to her that never leave the spiral notebook.
The straight lines of print flit before my eyes like so many walls
dividing the earth from the sky. I will have to rouse her
three times for school in the morning, I will have to know
the difference between my own longings and hers,
I will have to judge the strength of the cords that hold her
as she swings from the moon, ready to jump.