Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11: Sunburned, New Poem, My Daughter

I had a pretty restless night.  Because of my hours in the sun yesterday, I ended up getting a moderate sunburn.  I hate getting sunburned.  In bed last night, I just couldn't get comfortable.  At one point, right around two o'clock in the morning, I actually contemplated getting up and taking a cold shower.  My legs itch and sting.  My face feels as tight as a Lady Gaga dress.  My neck aches.

Yes, I have a raccoon sunburn!
Needless to say, I was pretty tired when I got to work this morning.  For a few minutes, I just sat at my computer, drooling.  I actually drooled, left a little wet spot on my shirt.  I had to get up, do some filing, guzzle a can of Diet Mountain Dew, and run a few laps around the office.  I'm much better now, but I really didn't think I was going to make it today.

Yesterday, while I was sitting at the pool, broiling myself, my daughter was having an argument with one of her friends in the water.  Apparently, the friend was upset because my daughter didn't invite her to go to the fireworks with her on Saturday night.  Her friend was floating around, sulking.  Maybe because I was hot and miserable, I got really annoyed.  I literally had to force myself to ignore the situation.  My daughter kept apologizing, and her friend kept ignoring her.  It took an act of God for me to keep my mouth shut.

My daughter and her friends
Of course, by the end of the afternoon, they were laughing and playing together, as if nothing happened, but I couldn't get over my daughter's need to grovel for her friend's forgiveness when she did absolutely nothing wrong.  Self esteem is such a strange creature.  Perhaps, because I'm a little older (OK, a LOT older), I'm less willing to beg for friendship.  I'm sure, when I was my daughter's age, acceptance was a life-or-death thing.  The only time I feel the need for that kind of acceptance now is when I write a poem.

Which brings me to today's poem, which is about my daughter and her friend and hurt and acceptance.  I've been stewing about the scene for a whole day now.  (My daughter has probably already forgotten about the whole disagreement.)  I'm hoping this poem will exorcise my anger.

Saint Marty needs to go rub some Solarcaine on his forehead now.


My ten-year-old daughter’s best friend hates her, floats around the swimming pool, ignores my daughter’s pleas.  “Talk to me.”  I listen from my lounge chair, eyes closed.  The sun sinks into my face, arms, legs.  Turns my skin tight and pink.  I try to ignore my daughter’s voice as it grows louder, more desperate.  “It’s not my fault.”  I’m used to these tectonic rifts, will let my daughter tread water, save herself.  The pool, green and cool as a frog’s back, would soothe my body’s heat, replace burn with shadow, moss, the cool loam of forest floor after weeks of wildfire.  But to interfere in my daughter’s battle with a splash or wave or eclipse of water would upset the delicate ecosystem being reestablished.  I open my eyes, watch my daughter and her friend drift away, deeper and deeper, my daughter’s voice, a thrum in the July afternoon.  Like cicada.  “I didn’t mean it.”  I wonder if her tongue will sting tonight the way my neck will.  If her words will blaze in the dark, keep her awake, remind her how many times she said “I’m sorry” as her friend left her red, hurting.  Craving aloe.

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