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I Am Sitting at the Table.

 I am sitting at the table in my friend's dining room her
children age five and two are there also, the little one with her curly
electric blonde hair that reminds me of my daughter's hair before
my sister decided it was too messy and had it cut short. When I came
home from teaching there was my furious five-year-old, her curls gone.
It was years before she forgave my sister and years before I could
forgive myself for not being there to stop her. Funny how the past and
the present are mixed up in our minds like colored glass in a
kaleidoscope. Anyway, there I am in Vestal, NV, my children grown up
even my grandchildren much older than these children at this table and I
look at the youngest child with her tough stance and her big smile and
her wild hair and then at the oldest child with her light blonde hair
that falls in a straight line to her shoulders and her eyes wide and
blue as pansies and I see in her, the delicate precision with which she
moves the careful way she lifts her fork to her mouth, her serious
concern that every action be completed in exactly the right way, my own
daughter, grown now and with that veneer of sad cynicism, that loss of
hope, so evident since her divorce, the sharp wit she uses to hide her
thin skin, the place inside herself that even six years have not been
able to heal. I think of my sixteen-year-old granddaughter and see in
her those same qualities--all three of them, the little girl sitting
near me eating her ice cream cake with such sweet concentration and my
daughter who tries to save herself by that same precision in everything
she does writing an article, or preparing to teach her classes, or
setting up her new condo. "I don't want to talk about my
life," she says. "I never want to talk about it. You,"
she says, "are too optimistic. You always think everything will
work out, and it never does." Across the telephone wires from
Boston, her words make my eyes fill with tears who would do anything to
make her happy. My student says, "You can't be afraid. What
are we supposed to feel if you're afraid?" My granddaughter
has grown into a long-legged girl with her thick blonde hair and her
lean body and her quick intelligence, but inside she's as frail as
the wings of a moth, as easily hurt, and all those young women, my
images of them swirl in my mind, and no matter how much I love them the
hardest thing of all is knowing I cannot predict what will hurt them,
what their lives will be nor do I have the power to keep them from
everything in the world that wants only to do them harm. 
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Author:Gillan, Maria Mazziotti
Publication:Prairie Schooner
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 22, 2010
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