Falling Water

Falling Water  by Nancy Schatz Alton

I feel myself pushing against the sadness that wells up inside of me.

Don’t let it out don’tletitout don’t-let-it-out.

It’s a crushing wave.

I let myself feel it in small spills—

Seltzer that ruins the Sorry game we’ve played so many times.

I say, “Throw away all the games: We have no more kids!”

My husband laughs and says “Debbie Downer!”

I don’t let myself cry as I clean up the mess.

I wanted my bedside table cleaned off anyway.

The books in the goodwill pile, the dust swept up,

the crappy square (broke in two!) that held my cups thrown away.

But Look: I Found my missing GREEN earring—

it sparkles on the floor.

I’m wearing it today: to teach

to teach KIDS.

KIDS that hang on my words.

The salt coats my insides as I try to keep it all in.

My baby is turning 17 and the tears just push their way out.

Glad: No one is here to see them.

To hold them because nothing can save me from this:

My girl getting ready for the dance, her sparkly blue dress

hugging her luscious self as I work at the bookstore up the hill.

Falling water: nothing stops your babies from growing up.

I wear my sparkling green earrings—

found in a fit over my baby growing up.

I wear them to teach kids who hang on my every word.

My words already washed over my baby.

She carries them with her as she makes her way in the world.

Are they green or blue?

They sparkle and crest as I cry in my office:

Falling water marking the path on the journey.

Tears hitting my chest and rolling down

hugging my luscious self as I practice this new age.

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