We took Emily back to Boston today for the start of another semester at Northeastern. She did her co-op experience at Disney World, so she’s been gone since August. She flew home on Friday and now it’s back to school on Sunday. So many beginnings and endings — always racing to be somewhere else. Anyway, it reminded me of a poem I wrote almost 10 years ago now, when she turned 12.
At the Rustic Drive-In
June 15, 2001
I sit alone in a parked van on this hazy night,
popcorn spilling from butter-soaked bags.
Old ’70s music on the radio,
tuned in, ready for Harry Potter to begin.
Mosquitoes settle in too.
Emily and her friends have gone in search of napkins.
(Who knows what they’ve spilled already.)
Last day of sixth grade—another ending.
She turned twelve today.
That many years ago I was touching
her creases and folds, hearing her cry for the first time.
Tonight she has so much to celebrate.
She giggles with friends,
wears pajamas into Cumberland Farms.
Parked on this dark open field,
I watch the stars come out
and I think ahead to my laughing girl packing up
for college and moving on,
to learn about life without me.
I imagine her fearless and flying.
And so, later, when Emily and her friends
tell stories, play card games and sing with the radio
inside the tent in our backyard,
I listen from my bedroom window.
Suddenly, their flashlights arc into spasms of light
as the girls play tag on the dark lawn below.
I go to bed, still listening, trying to stay awake.
I will dream I am flying.