We woke them in the dark--
The five sleeping faces buried in pillows and dreams.
He—their father who has carried each in his arms more times than can be counted--
Carried blankets and pillows
Through the glass-paned back doors
Onto the stained and splintered wood deck,
Laid down a simple bed for the shivering, robed bodies and said:
Come see the show.
We followed, watched
The slow slip of stars across clean, black slate of sky.
Became one warm mass under shared quilt
Giggling and groggy, blissful, aware…
Shhh, I said, don’t wake the neighbors.
And then by candlelight, still waiting for the sun,
She discovered the Easy Bake Oven she had asked for
The small, crying, bottle (and battery) -fed piglet chosen by her sister
And from her brothers:
Coin bank and bubble gum, stickers and a DVD:
Around the dinner table, night rolling in,
We told her how we love her…
How she loves us
With her generous spirit, her gifts of song and story
The way she curls and cuddles,
Her capacity for joy…
She grinned, pleased, scraping frosting from paper plate…
Even the frosting had declared our love for her.
But she cannot know.
She cannot know that when we find her sleeping
Beauty in her stillness catches us
And keeps us there
Staring and stroking soft, olive cheeks that even now
Have just a little baby left.
She cannot know that when we watch her at the piano
Singing a new song—truly a new song—
We almost break
Into weeping and laughter.
She cannot know how we cherished what we had not seen
So that now, seeing,
We need a new word.
On the morning of her sixth birthday,
We woke them in the dark.
Saw the show.
Waited for the sun.