Your Daughter Tells You
She Has 3 Boyfriends
And #3 Is a Married Man
while you’re seated on her deck
outside the kitchen holding
Pacific Northwest sun shines,
toes bare for the first time in six
months, and she says she’d see
this other boyfriend except
he is spending today with his
other girlfriend so you ask why
did he get married if he wants
to spend his days with
Your daughter winces for aren’t you
Midwest-vanilla-beige in wedlock
with her dad for three decades!
Well, someday, like J, she explains,
she and her primary K might marry too.
Show that they love each other best
(and for the tax breaks and hospital
rights). You ask but how can she open
her heart to J when she knows he won’t
always be there for her?
Your daughter says since she has K,
she doesn’t want always with J.
She is pulling a brush in long strokes
through her glossy hair, slim arms
still tan from last summer’s beaches.
And if K is with HIS other girlfriend,
I still have L.
L. The man she had you come meet
at the café the night before, the man
whose speech was peppered with “we’s”
because he lives with the mother of his son.
You see how well this all works, Mom?
What you see is how crowded this deck
has become with denim knees, buckled
boots, lowered hat brims, hands cupping
hips, arms braced by shoulders – calendars
so clotted with names that they’re sliding
off walls from the weight of the ink.
She says cheating isn’t part of their lexicon.
Nor is belonging or mine.
Your daughter is pulling loose hair from
the bristles of her brush in a feathery motion,
opening her palm to the sky so the breeze
can catch, catch and carry each strand away.
Editor’s Note: This poem reiterates the old saying, ‘love is love’, and this is especially true when that love is for a grown child living a surprising life. The close is poignant, ending the poem with another aphorism: ‘If you love somebody, set them free.’