To a Daughter Leaving Home

More than a few people sent me this poem when Grace was leaving for school, which was lovely.  I’ve long known and loved it, and it feels particularly poignant right now, right after the first week that she was home since leaving.  And you know what?  I miss her – we all do – but it is so clear she’s in the right place.  These last weeks have been very challenging for us all, but even in the midst of that, I know she’s okay, which is a huge gift.

(I wrote this before my father died, so there has been a huge rupture since, but the sentiment is still true).

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping,
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving
goodbye.

-Linda Pastan


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