empty nest reprieve

Chicks tend to leave one at a time, giving the illusion of preparing parents for the inevitable, though incomprehensible, reality of impending freedom from day-to-day tending. The truth? There is no preparing. And there is no end to tending. The day-to-day merely stretches into longer intervals.

Despite yearned-for openings for long-abandoned projects, sudden space can be, well, daunting. Until a momentary reprieve from solitude materializes in the form of a short two months when your youngest comes ‘home.’ By her own words, for her last summer. After a stretch of decades where daily parenting was the norm, the bedrock of life, this coda is beyond welcome. It also humbly reminds: balance between empty and full is a state of heart.

PARTING – for my daughter
Each time we part
it’s like
the first time –

how quickly you flew
from me, announced
your self on a tear

me barely prepared
to hold your
fast-moving force.

However long we share,
its ending always
seems sudden to me,

your leaving a jolt
that tears me open
anew through layers

of healed and renewed,
the one skin of us
flesh of my flesh.

And there you stand
at the opening
of tomorrow, the you

so often seen like me
by those who could not
know the whole, striding

into the world carrying
what lives below words,
can never be parted.