This is a poem my mom wrote in 1991, when I was ten years old. She shared it with Marcos and me this summer when we visited Hawaii for her graduation from Graduate School. It was among the relics found while she was sifting through all of her possessions in preparation to pack up and set off for her current adventure. She read this poem to us and my Uncle John at a beach park near Ala Moana, as we ate our bar-b-cue chicken plate lunch and watched the waves crash on the rocks. When she read the last stanza she had to pause to fight back the tears, and they ricocheted into my eyes as I saw myself just like she had imagined I would be: Married to a man whose lap I sit on, whose neck I kiss and whom I tell endless times daily "Marcos? I love you"...
When you Were Young
When you were young, I held you in my arms
In your entirety
Your small, warm body, draped across my chest
after a midnight meal
I made up songs for you,
And you smiled at me in the heat of the October nights.
I watched you, my first, my only child
And marvelled, as you led me, hand in hand, through the paint-puzzle-story-naptime rituals of your days.
And when, assured and four years old, you gave that piece at graduation,
It caught my breath, to glimpse the child you were becoming.
We moved to Oregon the year you were five,
Two years in a gray, wet state.
You loved it, as you love everything that's new
Your school, the rain, the berries, the skating, the cousin you came to know.
And back in the warm state of our birth,
First, second, third grade
Here look at you!
Only a foot below me.
You face the camera, and smile; I love those straight, white teeth.
I look to find myself in you but you are much more vibrant, your eyes are green, not blue like mine; you are not shy, like I was.
You pose in the black and red soccer uniform of the "Razor Blades", a ball tucked under one arm, your hair's tied back in regulation style, rebellious wisps escaping where they may.
I appreciate that in this game you find a challenge, when everything you do comes so easily.
When you were young,
I held you in my arms,
In your entirety.
Now I can barely fit you on my lap.
And someday, twice as many years from now, when you find another lap to sit on,
Will you do as I do now?
Will you kiss the nape of his neck and tell him how much you love him?