Wednesday, July 13, 2011

before you leave for university

(the poem that I wrote for Fiona's commencement day)

sixty-five days (by my count) until the date on the airplane ticket
sixty-five days
for you
like a bowl of brightly coloured stars
blazing with promise

for me, like so many things I want us to do

before you leave for university we must
sit on the porch in the deepening dark
watch an electric storm slice the sky
shiver under a blanket
smell ozone
and talk about the dog
remembering how we fed her peanut butter from a spoon
to calm her fears during storms like these

before you leave for university we have to
put on a Barney CD and sing along in the car at the top of our lungs
you will remind me how I dropped your Baby Bop cake frosting-down in the carport
I will remind you how you were sure Barney lived in a tool shed at the campground in Osoyoos

we need to go to the library together
I won't make you join the summer reading club this year
but we can still take out a book on tape
and listen together at bedtime

I want you to build a fort in the living room one more time
invite me inside for a picnic supper
insist that I sit just there, just so
kick me out, fix up the blankets
and call me back in for cheerios and tea

before you leave for university
we need to go shopping together
we'll go to Galloway's to get ingredients for granola
(I want to send you away with enough granola to last until you come home at Christmas)
you don't have to ride in a baby backpack at the store, or chew on a dried apricot while I shop
but we will ask for fresh peanut butter from the peanut butter machine
and if you want, I'll buy you the smallest bag of smarties they will sell us

we need to go to the bookstore and buy your last-day-of-school book for the very last time
we need to try on bathing suits without freaking out
and bras without having to spell out B-R-A so nobody else will know what we're buying
we need to go to the grocery for water chestnuts and iceberg lettuce
then go home and make lettuce wraps for supper
yes, we can use the food processor this time, even though I like when it takes a long time
for us to chop up the vegetables

before you leave for university
I want us to go for a swim at our pool down the road
then come home and watch a dvd of My Girl in our pajamas
we will eat microwave popcorn
and I'll explain to you why we named you Fiona and not Vada Sultenfuss
although Vada Sultenfuss is a fine name too

I want us to go to ABC Family Restaurant for breakfast
I promise this time not to lie to you about the coffee creamers being milk cups for elves
I want us to fly a kite in Vanier park
I want to go with you to Maplewood Farm one more time
I promise this time not to let a pony bite your toe
besides, your toes have grown, so they definitely do not look like grapes any more

speaking of toes
before you go away to university I want you to paint my toenails
a new shade called “I will be fine”
I will paint yours a colour called “come home soon”

then we must dress up and go to the theatre to see a play about someone else going away
and someone else coming home soon
and pretend for a while that it's really a story

for now, let's bake some muffins
blueberry would be perfect
let's count the berries out like a bowl of brightly coloured stars
share them like promises
gobble them like there's no tomorrow
like where you are going they don't have blueberries
like I'll never eat another blueberry so long as we're apart

before you leave for university
make sure to taste the sweetness of every day, every day
tomorrow is “I will be fine”
the next is “come home soon”

question: will you say good-bye to someone this summer?

mompoet - come home soon


Lynn Valley Girl said...

I cried again MP. I will visit you for hugs and friendship. It will be exciting and sad to say good-bye to your rising star!

Cinnamon said...

Reading this & made it half way *tears*. My baby girl is only 16 months old but I can envision her heading off to university already! Beautiful, touching poem. Thank you.