Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Poem: Song For Caroline

Song for Caroline

Caroline, Caroline Paige,
I treasure your curious stare,
your sturdy pushing legs.
I watch your mother's face
when she holds you,
lit from within as I was
when I held your father,
that Johnson's baby powder scent,
the warm smooth feel of your skin
against my mouth,
and for one moment,
sliding back in time,
I am young again
and you are my child.

In 1965 in that Rutgers apartment,
I sat through the long, hacking night,
holding your father
and rocking into dawn light.
How warm he was in my arms,
how sure I was I would keep him forever.
Now I hold you,
the child I held so long ago
Little flower,
little chirping bird,
you watch the world
through big, solemn eyes
drinking everything in,
storing it up
the seriousness of it all,
and you, your sudden smile
when you look at your father
as though all the glory
in the universe
were gathered in his hands.

Caroline, Caroline Paige,
Granddaughter, today when I hold you,
you burrow into the curve
of my neck, and I wonder
when you are older will you come to me
with your secrets
and your sorrows?
Will we become friends
a little while
before you rush into your life?
Already you are trying to walk,
your legs, too delicate to hold
your slender body,
want to walk anyway,
your feet moving though air,
practicing the motion
that will take you away.

We gather in a circle around you,
as if you were a fire and we, needing
your warmth against the chill.
Blue as pansies, as violets, your eyes
fix on each of us in turn,
your father, mother, grandfather and me.
We are awed by you, your copper hair,
your impish mouth, your legs,
so strong and wirey, and you,
and all of us, so pleased with you.
We smile at you,
this blessing, this magic charm,
this energy which crackles
in the room, so new, so new.

A 1995 poem collected in Where I Come From by MARIA MAZZIOTTI GILLAN

Maria's Official Site is at and her books are available at Her latest publication is the poetry collection,  Ancestors' Song

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