Pride and Joy

you arrived, beautiful, exuberant, hungry
smiling, laughing, sure of a future
you were my breath, my pulse, my pride and joy

by day you delivered hugs and kisses and laughter,
and wanted to marry me, at least live next door
I smiled, knowing

at night, we picked up the debris:
Cheerios, blocks, balls and shirts and socks,
miniature cars and doll shoes and tea cups
crayons, puzzle pieces, race cars
dress-up clothes and tiaras
bikes and doll strollers and hockey sticks
and later, broken hearts

you slept in forts you built
and when the world was too big, my bed,
and when it fell apart, we railed against the chaos
together

the winds changed, your dreams revived, adapted
and carried you away

then you left
much as you arrived:
beautiful and determined and hungry
but also altered, holes in your skin
looking for healing salves
and nourishment potent enough
to feed the hope in your hearts

and we all dreamed new dreams
and learned to live with the ache in our bones
and though they say nothing is permanent
it’s all imprinted in our DNA,
enduring and eternal after all

you’re still my breath, my pulse, my pride and joy

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