We’d hoped it would last longer, the last year
she let us hold her sleepy in our arms,
hoist her on our shoulders to swat the air
conducting some mute fugue by Bach or Brahms.
Familiar tune, this plaint (too soon, too soon),
this antique ache we’ve struggled to oppose—
to want the morning back in afternoon
and wish for evening as the late light goes.
Though she still tells us both to tickle her,
our knees creak and our swollen ankles pop
when we tackle her, squeezing her hard to hear
the squeals that stab our eardrums: “Stop! Don’t stop!”
On the drive to school, we take the backroads slow—
soon, this will all have happened long ago.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 41 Number 5, on page 37
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