Ask her if you can pull the car over and pray.
Your daughter says yeah,
and you almost keep going
because you’re expecting a no.
You open the car door,
and an exploded blue pen
falls out onto the dirt road.
Leave the car door open because it’s not a busy road
but pick up the pen and put it in your pocket
that’s already ink-stained.
Your daughter watches out the car window at your back
as you cut through the long grass
and under one ash and a couple of cedar trees.
Look up at the sky for a couple of seconds
and then look down.
And your glasses are about to slip off your face.
Over your cream turtleneck you’re wearing a red and green Christmas sweater,
But, yes it is still October, isn’t it.
It’ll only take a minute.
Then, back in the car you go, saying something
about the trees.
Then you’re home, pulling up alongside the barn
where your other daughter is bringing in the Haflinger for the night.
She says, “Mamma watch” as she lets her go trotting into the stable without a lead.
Let your daughter see you starting to go angry
And then almost like you’re going to cry,
And she’ll know it’s an answer.
When you step into the kitchen and out of your boots you’ll say, “what does anybody want for dinner.”
Empty a pocket on the table.
Out comes a folded up piece of paper.
You ripped it. Seem upset.
Be ready for your daughter to say “that’s alright mamma we’ll fix it together.”
But just sort of leave, the ends of your socks hanging way off the tips of your toes.
That daughter of yours wipes down the counter and flattens out the creases of the paper, sees
it’s not even legible—not even
English she doesn’t think,
and that her mamma still has the other half, don’t you?
She’ll slide it behind the jar of coins
on the ledge beside the bowl of potatoes.
They’re not good enough to eat, not bad enough to throw outside.
She’ll climb up on that ledge, take down
the dusty floral curtain, looking for a moment at the willow
branch laying in the yard.
When she makes a frustrated sound and you ask “what?
from your bed two rooms away
she’ll say, “I stepped in the dog’s water dish.”