Final Excerpt (#115) of Rocking-Chair Moon

Diamond Dreams

I’m glad I gave up on that baseball dream
—the one with me on the mound
throwing heat and fifty thousand fans
in the stands roaring with each strike—
while I was still in middle school and
most other things seemed possible.

It would have been tough
to lose that dream now.

It would have been tough
to be dreaming, still,
of being
a marlin hunter,
a tie tier,
an NFL punter,
a magic carpet flyer,
a two-handed dunker,
a guy who jumps from planes,
rifle strapped to his chest,
yelling all the way if he wants.

Today I have other dreams—
Megan, Ethan, Hannah,
driving south with them
in a convertible the color of the sun.

And I can still run.
I can still run.

Small Miracle

Pete and I popped in to see Ben and Megan
and Ethan and the baby tonight
(okay, mostly to see Ethan and the baby),

and just as dusk began
to temper the brightness of the day
and the warmth of their tiny,
perfumed backyard,
we witnessed a small miracle:

Hannah’s first smile,
in the sweetly haunting shape of
a rocking-chair moon.

Picture Book

The TV sits silenced
in the far corner of the room
while your plump crescent of a finger
taps the dog-eared, chocolate-smeared
title page and its handwritten wish
from your great-grandpa—
Happy First Birthday, Hannah—
and your favorite illustration,
a small salmon launching herself
through the surface of a whitewater stream.

Jump, you say, twisting the green ribbon
in your coppery hair,
looking up from my lap, settling in,
waiting, convinced, I suppose,
by that flawed but unshakable
going-on-two-years-old logic of yours
that the leftover lines of worry
masquerading as wisdom on your dad’s face
bestow a unique, superior ability to
enunciate the story’s familiar words.

And I set out to prove you right.

Once, I begin, in my best read-aloud rumble,
trying to conjure up from old mind-echoes
the comforting voice of Morgan Freeman
at his most credible,
a fingerling salmon frolicked in the calm,
clear backwaters of a high mountain river.

She watched the shadows in her icy pool
change as the sun crept across the sky,
snowy peak to snowy peak.

She felt the tug of the rapids
only a few feet away,
tumbling, tumbling, tumbling,
trailing the sun.

She smelled, from somewhere far
downstream, the faint,
delicious scent of salt.

All around her,
her brothers and sisters and cousins stirred.

Two by two, three by three,
the lifelong companions
drifted away, letting the current take them.

Her heart begged her
to follow the sun and the current
and the delicious salt scent
and her brothers and sisters and cousins.

The small salmon
always listened to her heart…

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