July 22: “Catch-All”

Mother Dear, never apologize for nettles
I yanked in fury
from Lottie Shoop’s side yard —

they stung me into seeing
fairy mosses lilypad
her middened juniper,

the quivering gobble of her chin,
teacup clicking dentures as she sprang
up into her wattle hut
and broke a rib

of aloe vera —
gel belling the top of that claw goblet.

It didn’t cool the sting, and yet, noticing
sunshine thumbing plums in a string
catch-all —

I was already well.

— Danielle Chapman

June 18: “No Longer a Teenager”

my daughter, who turns twenty tomorrow,
has become truly independent.
she doesn’t need her father to help her
deal with the bureaucracies of schools,
hmo’s, insurance, the dmv.
she is quite capable of handling
landlords, bosses, and auto repair shops.
also boyfriends and roommates.
and her mother.

frankly it’s been a big relief.
the teenage years were often stressful.
sometimes, though, i feel a little useless.

but when she drove down from northern California
to visit us for a couple of days,
she came through the door with the

biggest, warmest hug in the world for me.
and when we all went out for lunch,
she said, affecting a little girl’s voice,
“i’m going to sit next to my daddy,”
and she did, and slid over close to me
so i could put my arm around her shoulder
until the food arrived.

i’ve been keeping busy since she’s been gone,
mainly with my teaching and writing,
a little travel connected with both,
but i realized now how long it had been
since i had felt deep emotion.

when she left i said, simply,
“i love you,”
and she replied, quietly,
“i love you too.”
you know it isn’t always easy for
a twenty-year-old to say that;
it isn’t always easy for a father.

literature and opera are full of
characters who die for love:
i stay alive for her.

— Gerald Locklin

February 3: “Love’s Strategems”

All these maneuverings to avoid
The touching of hands,
These shifts to keep the eyes employed
On objects more or less neutral,
As honor, for the time being, commands,
Will hardly prevent their downfall.

Stronger medicines are needed.
Already they find
None of their strategems have succeeded,
Nor would have, no,
Not had their eyes been stricken blind,
Arms cut off at the elbow.

— Donald Justice