On the morning of her sixth birthday...

On the morning of her sixth birthday

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

Silent movie,

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:

Sleeping Beauty.

Of course.


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.