For My Daughter on her Twenty-First Birthday

by Ellen Bass
Bass. Mules of Love. For My Daughter on Her Twenty-First Birthday
When they laid you in the crook of my arms like a bouquet and I looked into your eyes, dark bits of evening sky, I thought, of course this is you, like a person who has never seen the sea can recognize it instantly. They pulled you from me like a cork and all the love flowed out. I adored you with the squandering passion of spring that shoots green from every pore. You dug me out like a well. You lit the deadwood of my heart. You pinned me to the earth with the points of stars. I was sure that kind of love would be enough. I thought I was your mother. How could I have known that over and over you would crack the sky like lightning, illuminating all my fears, my weaknesses, my sins. Massive the burden this flesh must learn to bear, like mules of love.