by: Joe Mills
How do you know if it’s love? she asks,
and I think if you have to ask, it’s not,
but I know this won’t help. I want to say
you’re too young to worry about it,
as if she has questions about Medicare
or social security, but this won’t help either.
“You’ll just know” is a lie, and one truth,
“when you still want to be with them
the next morning,” would involve too
many follow-up questions. The difficulty
with love, I want to say, is sometimes
you only know afterwards that it’s arrived
or left. Love is the elephant and we
are the blind mice unable to understand
the whole. I want to say love is this
desire to help even when I know I can’t,
just as I couldn’t explain electricity, stars,
the color of the sky, baldness, tornadoes,
fingernails, coconuts, or the other things
she has asked about over the years, all
those phenomena whose daily existence
seems miraculous. Instead I shake my head.
I don’t even know how to match my socks.
Go ask your mother. She laughs and says,
I did. Mom told me to come and ask you.
Spent some time with my daughter tonight, walking in the woods and along the shore of Lake Superior. She was beautiful, walking along the edge of the water, picking up stones. Her hair was so red in the dusking sun. I couldn't help but feel a little sad at how grownup she looked. In a year, she'll be an almost high school graduate.
When did this happen?
The good thing is that, before she goes to bed every night, she comes to me for a kiss goodnight. She still calls me "daddy." And, every once in a while, she comes to me with life questions. That means she still thinks that I'm smart. For now.
Saint Marty isn't ready for his little girl to be a big girl.