—for my daughter on her tenth birthday, Feb. 10, 2017


When it was only a matter of dodging asteroids

or surviving the plague. When the inquisitions

no one expects and the battles no one forgets

faded into other crises. Back before I was born,

and somehow everything survived.

Well, Camelot crumbled, but the next year

there rose the Civil Rights and Wilderness Acts.

Then King was dead, long live the dream,

and there was me, the nukes, and the Russkies.

But once again, mushrooms became almost

only food, not clouds.


After I made it through the Cold War and

high school simultaneously, I basked

in the sure glow of Roe v. Wade, worried more

about chip mills invading Southern softwoods

than the government marching jack boots

through my body. I mean down there.

Having children seemed like a good idea,

though the population boom needed attention.

Soon so did the climate.


Then a thunderbolt of justice hit in the time of BP—

Black President and oil spill—and I told my kids

Americans are free to love whom they love.

My 8 yr. old asked, “Is it like how blacks

and whites couldn’t use to marry?” She smiled

at my nod. “I can hardly wait to see how much

fairer the world gets when I grow up.”


Never forget, Love, it almost happened.

We have t-shirts and magnets to remind us

of cheering with Gramma, of being eager to vote.

Oh Little Human, star of my dark heart,

it once seemed simple. But now strong women

retreat to the woods from a nightmare

worse than any of your infancy. Few are sleeping well.

I know I must fight & believe & dream like those

before me, but, goddamn, it was easier to save the world

back when I  was the one wearing flowered

frocks that twirled, back when I was child,

not mother. But it’s my turn, and I will.