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For My Daughter on her Twenty-First Birthday

When they laid you in the crook

of my arms like a bouquet and I looked

into your eyes, dark bits of evening sky,

I thought, of course this is you,

like a person who has never seen the sea

can recognize it instantly.

They pulled you from me like a cork

and all the love flowed out. I adored you

with the squandering passion of spring

that shoots green from every pore.

You dug me out like a well. You lit

the deadwood of my heart. You pinned me

to the earth with the points of stars.

I was sure that kind of love would be

enough. I thought I was your mother.

How could I have known that over and over

you would crack the sky like lightning,

illuminating all my fears, my weaknesses, my sins.

Massive the burden this flesh

must learn to bear, like mules of love.

from Mules of LoveFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2002
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Ellen Bass Poems

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