Poem of the Week, by Ellen Bass


  1. Son to his little sister, who was raging about a boy in her first-grade class: But maybe he acts like that because he’s sad. You never know what his home life is like.
  2. Older daughter, age six, to me during a discussion of what death was, after I had told her that if I died she would be very sad but she would still be okay: No I wouldn’t be sad. Me: . . . you wouldn’t? Her: Nope. If you die then I’ll die too. I can’t be alive without you.
  3. Younger daughter, the first day I ever met her in a far-off land, when they handed her away from everything and everyone she had ever known and into my arms and her face screwed up with terror and confusion: Shhh, don’t cry, little daughter, don’t cry. We’re going to have so much fun. I promise you. I promise you. I promise you.

For My Daughter on Her Twenty-First Birthday
     – Ellen Bass

When they laid you in the crook
of my arms like a bouquet and I looked
into your eyes, dark bits of evening sky,
I thought, of course this is you,
like a person who has never seen the sea
can recognize it instantly.
They pulled you from me like a cork
and all the love flowed out. I adored you
with the squandering passion of spring
that shoots green from every pore.
You dug me out like a well. You lit
the deadwood of my heart. You pinned me
to the earth with the points of stars.
I was sure that kind of love would be
enough. I thought I was your mother.
How could I have known that over and over
you would crack the sky like lightning,
illuminating all my fears, my weaknesses, my sins.
Massive the burden this flesh
must learn to bear, like mules of love.

For more information about Ellen Bass, please click here.

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