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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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How To Hug Your Daughter When She’s Twenty

 

                                               

The nest above your collar bone is for her chin.

This places her breath—grape candy or sour cigarette-

just beside your ear, which is where you want

 

it so you can hear the tiny wheeze

from the hive of her lungs and the drumming

of work going on in the branches of her chest.   Know

 

that her shoulders might stiffen in protest,

but this means you can tuck them more easily

under the wings of your armpits.   Be aware

 

that she will embrace differently than you.   Expect

her arms tight at her sides; hands restless, fingers

poised to dial her phone or unwrap gum.   Accept

 

that your hands have their own memories.   They

will want to support her head; they may try to

thump her back gently or rub her flat stomach.   Try

 

to keep them still, but, if necessary, you can

give her oily hair a little tug and wonder at its

plum color, its spicy scent.   Worry,

 

but not so much that you wring her.   It’s her right

to think herself invincible and, yours, to know

she’s not.

 

—Sue Reed Crouse


 

Six Seconds

 

                                               

Memory lifts her murky mirror                                                                                                  

for the girl,

while the Perseids blaze

through the humid haze

of the waxing Red Moon.

 

The girl steals a last

glance at her life

rushing upward as she falls,

heavy and warm, through the old wooden walkway

beside the sturdy tracks of the railroad bridge,

so high above the gurgle and grind

of the stinking river thicket below

that she has time to think

on the way down.   

 

With her dozen remaining heartbeats,

the girl remembers a line from an old sonnet;

 

                If I should die, think only this of me:

 

                that I loved the falling stars;

                that the ground killed me,

                not the fall.

                Don’t

                                blame

                                                the fall.

 

—Sue Reed Crouse