Me, the Mother, Grimacing

Sunday morning, my daughter drives on icy roads to meet a friend to ski. In the passenger seat, I grimace. There’s no more polite way to reveal my actions: I’m grimacing. My daughter — perfectly capable, but my God, she’s 15, driving on icy roads.

She intends to be driving thus for decades to come, without me, of course, grimacing away in the passenger seat.

We head over the mountain and down along the river where the roads improve. Driving, she talks to me, as if the steering wheel has loosened her natural reticence. She laughs and confides, there’s just so much you don’t need to know.

Oh, my Queen of Economy. Wise and experienced beyond your years.

On the way home, we stop for coffee, and I drive while she eats and talks and plays country music that, good lord again, I’m becoming quite fond of.

Who knows will happen next year, this summer, this spring, this very week — goodness, even this afternoon with so much yet spread out before us? For this moment, here we are.

On the way home, I pull over, hand her the keys, and knock off the grimacing.

Coyotes feed themselves on gaunt dreams of spring. 

— David Budbill, “March”

East Burke, Vermont

March

The winter my youngest daughter was two, I remember lying in bed one night with her after we had been in our sugarhouse all day. The washing machine churned with the children’s wet snowsuits, grimed with mud and ashes. I was worn out with working, my hair laced with the scents of wood smoke and maple, infinitely pleased that we had made a barrel of syrup.

As my little daughter fell asleep, I read Louise Glück’s poem “March” in the newest New Yorker, beginning:

The light stays longer in the sky, but it’s a cold light,
it brings no relief from winter…

A year into the pandemic, I feel as though we’re mired in an eternal Vermont March. I am now old in ways I have never been old before; all three of us have bent and changed this year, as has everyone I know.

When my daughter gives me this photo she took, I cringe for a moment, with a definite glass-half-full fear. But she doesn’t. Infinite possibilities…. surely, spring is there.

Photo by Gabriela S.