with red lips and glossy blue eyes
smiling from under a pink beanie
with a white puff ball on top.
Her mitten hand holding onto me, so tightly,
the thrill of new skates mingled
with a fear of falling. Age four.
At fourteen, the mittens have gone
and so has the beanie. Short skirt
twirling, spinning, jumping,
her hair billowing as she races from
one side of the lake to the other.
There is freedom on the ice that is
lacking elsewhere in a world of
puberty and teen social pressure.
I am on the shoreline, watching,
but my hand is not required as she
glides back and forth on her own.
a crack in the ice,
she slipped through and got out but
I hadn't told her about jagged lines
etching frozen water or density
or changing seasons. I hadn't covered everything.
She was out there, on her own
without my hand to hold onto
and we dodged a bullet because
she reached out and spoke up while
we listened to her cries in the middle of the night.
Weeks of time lost, focus changed,
repairing, rebuilding, relearning.
The ice calls to her,
still healing, still naive
to the dangers of winter, and water, and elements.
She takes my hand with full grown fingers
and promises to be safe,
her other hand clutching
the very skates she wore in her fall.
I drive four hundred miles to the lake,
examine every inch of the ice while she sleeps
and try not to lecture or hover or show
the great new fear that has burrowed deep inside me.
I cannot rationalize leaving her side but
she is not taking no for an answer,
wants to skate by herself.
My sweet round faced child,
same bright red lips and fresh blue eyes,
back on the ice, twirling and spinning,
racing in the best pair of skates I can afford.
She has me in her head and in her heart
but has dropped my hand once again.
Every crack in the ice presents a catastrophic ending
to the most powerful love story a
mother can have, but the ice
brings her life and she
deserves to grow and
to thrive and to succeed in her own way,
on her own path. I need to believe, to trust,
to let go.
Four hundred miles back home, I weep tears of agony
and tears of hope, curled up on her bed while
clutching that little girl's pillow as tightly as her mitten
hand held mine so many years ago.
Reassuring words from the first day on the ice, repeated as
I struggle to sound confident,
"It's okay honey. Everybody falls but you just get up
and try again. You'll be fine, sweetheart.
I'm here for you. I promise. I'm always here."