A Gift for a Daughter on Her Birthday

She texts from the seat next to him,
her boredom classic
and heroic,
though, no wonder, a prodigy, apparently,
of the world,
she turns 15 this Sunday, and
dumb and dithering, her dad, who
after nearly 50 years, you’d think
he’d know a thing or two, to round
the number down — nope — though
one thing’s for sure,
she’s the closest stuff to him,
and is betting
before long, like him, she’ll
open ground,
unearth clay and
stone, wrench
roots and shiver to the bone
its springs and inlets, drink
thunder from swaying trees,
unburden leafs and dried-up creeks
with ankles
and feet
demanding
the full degree and
the
weight,
the magnitude of earth
and love.
She will persist and come to
smile on her own,
at a painting, a tree near a road,
or from words a lover will whisper so
closely
she’ll mistake for a kiss,
but is.
She’ll weep, too,
from the same soft-spoken man,
or the skins of ice sighing on a lake,
or a voice from a number
she wanted
always to forget.
But today,
her eyes run through the cattle barns,
the bay mares misting in elm groves,
and her hair golden and damp is
strung out against the glass that
holds the storm
setting down years away
beyond the light on Notre Dame,
but never his love.
He watches her text, her voice
gathering inside her eyes, like his,
as he writes this next to her
with the tongue
of his mind.
He won’t ruin the surprise.

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