This evening, I was massaging the feet of one of my daughters. She's 19 now, and a father does what a father does. I was reminded, and spoke to her, of a poem I wrote when they were all still small, not the adults they are now. Here it is.
I stroke my children's backs, arms, legs,
to help them sleep, in multiples
each multiple to be complete
even if they've fallen asleep while I count.
I've always done this,
don't know why,
since the first of the four changed my life.
My parents never comforted me with caress.
The youngest has woken.
She wants more milk, and while I listen
to her hungry gurgles, I think
Upstairs there are sheaves of untouched paper
waiting for me to fill them,
and a computer with words to be assembled;
uneaten food whirring with wasps.
She's asleep, finally. They all are.
I've lost count
of the words, caresses, thoughts,
bottles of milk, wasps.
I forget the night.
Just dawn, and I've slept for three hours.
The house is still.
Another hour before it stirs.
I grab a piece of paper and begin to write.
RPS, Manstad, 17th August 2004