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To the Moon and Back

Listen to the wind rustling through trees

Listen to the wind growling at the sea.

Does he ever grow tired? You asked,

Your freezing palms on my knees.

It was nine in the evening when

you were sound asleep.

Tucked were your flowery bedsheets and

I left a kiss on your cheeks.

The pencil line on the wall raised each month,

you were giggling, saying you were going to beat me.

We'll have to wait and see, I said,

and that was the first time you ran away from me.

I held your little hands

as we walked and walked along the leafy lane.

You would jump in ecstasy

at the first bite of your strawberry ice cream.

And it would melt all over your pretty dress,

and when we got home, we would lie to your mother -

But one scrap of wrinkled paper wrap in the bin

would always give us away.

How you would jump on me each morning

dancing in my bed, waking me up.

Then we would dive into our secret world

before the alarm clock went off.

It was winter

When I last held you in my arms.

The highest pencil line on the wall settled for years and

had been scrapped away.

But I would still stand there, before the wall,

a tape measure in hand -

Stand there and think of you -

A beautiful girl

who would have been ripe for love by now

Much taller than the line,

getting on a yellow school bus each morning and

bringing home each night a gift of her day -

If some miracles had seen us through.

I remember the hospital lights

Your mother's cries -

The last days on the bright playground

You tripped on the rubber floor -

That was the only time you cried.

And on the green hospital bed I cuddled you,

told you one last story

Before you could fly into the night.

People in black suits and dresses came and went,

So sorry about your daughter, they said,

the flowers heaping up in the worst way. And I kissed your cheeks for the last time,

murmuring, murmuring,

I love you to the moon and back.

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