For a Friend, on her Birthday

A friend turned an age this week that just a short time ago, felt a long way off. How can we be this age already? Weren’t our kids just born?

They just started walking. They just uttered their first “Mamas,” and I know we just watched them climb their first trees.

They just started Kindergarten, walked to the bus stop by themselves, and went to their first sleep-away camps.

They just started middle school, learned to play an instrument and went to their first dance. They just started to drive and look at colleges.

They just did those things. That’s what we’re always saying.

And we just turned middle age. Somewhere in all these growing up years, when we were busy focusing on our children who grew so rapidly before our eyes, we grew, too. We attracted less attention, but it happened in no less remarkable and significant ways.

Here’s a poem for one of them who’s been with me for all of the above. It was her birthday this week. She is a master crocheter and almost always has a project in her hands.

For Lisa on her birthday

It’s a myth that it’s not possible
to find a rainbow’s end. My friend
plucked one from the horizon
while we visited in her back garden.
She reached her hand out mid sentence,
grabbed it by the tail, looped it ’round her hook
and began crocheting. Rows of bright colors
spilled across her lap. It’s just an afghan,
she said. A simple blanket.
Her hands moved ceaselessly, reshaping
the arc of colors. It grew steadily
as she reeled in more and more light.

I know little about her craft, but I’ve seen
this magic before. Two decades earlier
in this same place, babies spilled across our laps.
Our hands moved continuously, waving colorful toys
in the air above their heads, wee hands
reaching out and looping ’round our fingers.

That lap, where her blanket grew,
is where her sons did, too.

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