To A Fog Spirit
Made up and masked, you stream into the night,
your cape floating like gossamer behind you,
the moon illuminating what you are and are not:
a cool customer, slippery as quicksilver.
I cannot fathom you exactly, though I try to.
Lately, I've noticed you're all about change,
change and silence. And you have properties:
you expand and contract, filling whatever
space you're in, or self-contained as a cat.
Some mornings, impersonating one of us
you wake, dress, eat, then vanish out the door,
the room suddenly too silent, the day clear as a bell.
I remember a May morning twelve years ago,
before you were you, when I woke to a landscape
wiped clean as a blackboard and knew you were hiding
inside a stillness different from any I had ever known.
And that night in January, after our long journey,
when we were almost there, and the bridge to the island
disappeared, and we pushed on anyway (did we have a choice?)
into black foggy bottomless space and didn't fall--
O fog spirit, are you a magician?
How did you do that?
Does fog beget fog?
No, you have a mother and father.
So creep back to this house
and with a hand solid as my own
three times on the door,
and when it opens, as it will,
step through the portal and change,
change back into my daughter again.
(click for larger version)
Our subscription to The New Yorker
ensures that I still read poetry on a regular basis. And thank goodness for that. I love that this poem stirs feelings and memories for me that are surely not the same as those of the author when she was writing this (unless, of course, the author also had a daughter facing a second transplant after the failure of the first in the cold month of January). And surely this poem was written with an older child in mind, just entering those unknowable teen years. But, even at just freshly five, I look at my girl and see a mystery sometimes. It feels like every passing minute marks her progress toward leaving.
Tomorrow I will take her trick-or-treating. But she will, of course, insist that I stay on the sidewalk out of sight when she goes up to ring the doorbell.