Poetry Friday: Sunday Morning Early by David Romtvedt

Poetry Friday is hosted by Diane @ Random Noodling

I read this poem on The Writer’s Almanac the other day, and it has stayed with me. Perhaps it’s because as I get older I find that I experience and value time differently. Perhaps it’s because my children are grown and are finding their place in the world outside our home and family life, and I feel their absence.  Perhaps it’s because I seem to have finally learned the trick of how “to leave well enough alone”, after a fairly long life of not knowing how to.

At any rate, it’s a beautiful poem for this Poetry Friday:

kayaking

Sunday Morning Early

My daughter and I paddle red kayaks
across the lake. Pulling hard,
we slip easily through the water.
Far from either shore, it hits me
that my daughter is a young woman
and suddenly everything is a metaphor
for how short a time we are granted:

the red boats on the blue-black water,
the russet and gold of late summer’s grasses,
the empty sky. We stop and listen to the stillness.
I say, “It’s Sunday, and here we are
in the church of the out of doors,”
then wish I’d kept quiet. That’s the trick in life—
learning to leave well enough alone.

Our boats drift to where the chirring
of grasshoppers reaches us from the rocky hills.
A clap of thunder. I want to say something truer
than I love you. I want my daughter to know that,
through her, I live a life that was closed to me.
I paddle up, lean out, and touch her hand.
I start to speak then stop.

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21 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Sunday Morning Early by David Romtvedt

  1. Gorgeous details. “I want my daughter to know that,
    through her, I live a life that was closed to me.” Now that’s something people don’t mention very often when they are talking about what parenting is like. Thanks, Tara!

  2. I loved this poem too when I saw it on Writer’s Almanac. I saved it in my poems folder. My favorite line: “We stop and listen to the stillness.”

  3. I read this too, beautifully showing the feelings of letting go, and so filled with love. My mother’s advice about parenting was be sure to “bite your lip” often, i.e. “learning to leave well enough alone”. It works in teaching, too! Thanks, Tara. Have a lovely weekend!

  4. My daughter and I are in the same metaphorical kayak. (My son is in a johnboat, but that’s another metaphor!) I am still learning to leave well enough alone too. It’s a tricky thing, this parenting.

  5. “That’s the trick in life—
    learning to leave well enough alone.”
    It applies here, too. I don’t feel like I should say the obvious.
    “I start to speak then stop.”
    It’s good. Yes.
    But now I have already said too much.

  6. What a poem! Every line is perfect. “I want to say something truer/than I love you” is exactly how I often feel. The depth of meaning our children bring to our lives defies words. Thank you for sharing this with us, Tara.

  7. This poem expresses so profoundly the emotions in letting go and sending our children out into the world, into their own boats. How will we live without them here? we ask. And somehow we do. Maybe a little lonelier and maybe a little quieter.

  8. What a beautiful poem I’m still learning when to keep quiet and leave well enough alone. I’m right with you in figuring out how to re-balance the relationship with my daughter as she moves out into the world. So far, it’s been pretty smooth, but I do miss her presence.

  9. “That’s the trick in life—
    learning to leave well enough alone.”

    Yes. Even without a daughter, I can enter this poem right here and paddle along with my eyes open and my mouth shut.

  10. Tara, this is a wonderful poem that I am sending to my daughter and hope someday she will send it to her daughter.
    That’s the trick in life—
    learning to leave well enough alone.

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