When I leave the school after hugging you good-bye,
I hop down the steps, one-two-three-four-five,
and my leg muscles enjoy the bounce and catch.
I start my long walk up to the car.
When we walked down the hill together, Amelia ran
ahead, and Baxter was anguished, and I yelled,
“slow down!” so we could all walk together.
Now, I walk in long strides, at a pace you could not match.
Someday Amelia will leave us all behind, dancing
into the wide world to share her gleaming mind
and sharp sight. Someday Baxter will gambol out.
Someday this solitary walk will be my every day.

My stomach is too full of oatmeal, and my breath
comes in puffs as I climb. I walk quickly; is it
because I want the exercise? Is it because I’m in a rush
to get to work, or just because by now I always rush?
Slowing down is harder work than speeding up, these days.

I will work today, talking to people about things
I did not prepare myself to talk about, in my youth.
People will think I know what I am doing. You probably think
I know what I am doing. I’m not sure I know what I am doing.
I react so much, rather than planning out
and executing plans. My life spins from reaction to reaction,
and someday it will be gone and maybe it’s ok that I won’t
have achieved a great goal.
They say life doesn’t have to have a meaning.
I’m not sure I know what I am doing,
and I am sore afraid.

But I drive past the pretty yellow houses and the spring
flowers and sit in my pretty house, and I am lucky. I have time
to write you this poem, and I will fold you in my arms tonight,
a benediction of sweet flesh and tender words.
You are not the meaning of my life, but you are a sweetness
in it — the strawberries in my oatmeal, the fruit on my vine.