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For my mother

To my mother on her 60th birthday

You’re still trying to teach me
the most important of life’s lessons,
the necessity for laughter
in moments beyond our control,

a lesson I’m resisting
like a stubborn child
trying to climb a motorcycle
before he’s learned to ride his bike,

and maybe that’s what motherhood
teaches women before men,
makes them wiser, more mature,
accepting of circumstances

beyond the bending of our will,
that knowledge of autonomy
in the birthing of breath,
watching the chrysalis called home

break to unsheathe frail new wings,
that each babe eventually grows teeth
and a desire to eat new things,
to put new poisons into its body,

to envelope itself in a new cocoon
called privacy and individual experience,
you watch your children
run past the boundaries of the yard,

remove the training wheels
before they’re fully aware
that their brakes will eventually fail,
that every crested hill

reveals a new chance for danger,
but there’s nothing stopping you
from wanting to see the valley
so you best be laughing on your way down.

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