Turquoise (for my daughter)

For my daughter, on her fourth birthday


On days like today
when the sky burns
with a particular blue
like the burnt-glare eye
of turquoise,
warding off evil
and courting cumulus clouds
who danced like new lambs
as they only do
after thunderstorms,

I remember the day
you came into this world:
how you were so new
that blue post-storm morning
as I lay holding you,
awkward and attached,
afraid to let go
of this strange wrapped parcel
from the post office of the soul
containing untold secrets—
a tender alien promise
inspiring kisses
and obsession
with fingers that clasped
and a mouth that grasped
tiny hunter,
astonishing me in your fierceness.

You emerged from the darkness
with a slippery vengeance;
violet like a jewel,
utterly different from me.
Eternity overturned
in that sinking moment
when my core released you,
cutting ties to your oxygen,
revealing your secret identity
while you scrambled
like a netted fish against my shoulder—
and as you wailed for your lost paradise
I called your name,
after your great-grandmother
who couldn’t stay
long enough to meet you.

That night I drifted
through liminal dreams
of giant sunflowers
towering over me
like some surreal anime epic
and you were their delicate queen
with limbs of solar grace.
I dreamed of parted rivers,
of ferries and foghorns,
the bearded dancing Green Man
and black-mouthed ghosts of the dead
fluttering me awake
into the twilight of a nightlight
that cast shadows on your face
as you drifted inside your silent world
with lips gently parted,
oblivious to demons
and my catching heartbeat
as I inhaled your scalp
from which the scent of rainbows
slowly faded as your chest rose,
your breath
filling my lungs
like falling apple blossoms,
a lullaby calling me to sleep;

and the mornings blended into nights
as I tended you endlessly
for unspoken weeks
void of words,
more alone than a star—
cursing your nails
that stratched my taut udders raw
as your primal hungry jaws
clamped down relentlessly,
conjuring milk.
I sobbed with the weight
of euphoria and consequence—
my body limp and swollen,
a car wreck leaking antifreeze,
altered beyond recognition
as laundry and dishes
accumulated like weeds.

But on this day,
in which four years ago
you entered the world,
these threadbare moments glow
like a breath of rare Sapphic verse
that narrowly escaped the burning
of Alexandria.
I carry you on my shoulders,
your brown hands
reaching for the sky
like a coveted turquoise pendant.
“Mommy, I can’t reach the clouds,”
you chirp: “I want one.”
and I call up:
“They’re already yours.”
Can’t you see that your hands
contain heaven
when you hold them aloft—
that your smile
begins my world?
We’ve built this history, you and I,
colored your new eyes
with stories and memory.
You’re as strange as the dawn
I rarely rise to see,
yet I cherish you for that.
You hold my secrets—
little spark,
little rebel,
little cough of my fragrant universe.

In all the depths of my solitude,
little dreamer,
catcher of my sky,
I love you.
Never forget
that you are all that you seek—
how your pockets hold folded notes
of shimmering blue sky-leather
like secret aerogrammes from angels—
or how your hands
clutch the white clouds,
spun wool of your dreams,
your expert fingers winding skeins of light.
Never forget
that you are a landscape;
that your soul is my hidden garden.

I cultivate you quietly,
little mystery,
knowing deeply who you are:
calling the buds of your awakened spirit
as I delight in each new bloom.

© Psyche Marks 2007

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