The first tooth my daughter lost she threw into the woods. She had been eating a wild apple in our sugarhouse driveway, and the tooth pulled free into the fruit, frightening her. She spit the mouthful into the forest and threw the half-eaten apple, too. I actually spent some time looking for that tiny white tooth.
That milk tooth seemed so important to me then – as if with that tiny tooth I could hold her childhood in my hand.
Since last summer, my younger daughter has wanted to leap from a bridge into Mackville Pond, near her friend’s house. Standing on the metal railing the other day, her friend and sister coached her, while I sat on the grassy shore, certain the girl wouldn’t jump.
She did; I nearly missed her leap. Swimming, laughing, confident: I got this.
And so it goes.
It would be good to give much thought, before
you try to find words for something so lost,
for those long childhood afternoons you knew
that vanished so completely…
From “Childhood” by Rainer Maria Rilke