This week’s poem, Alana Saleeby’s “Uncle,” offers a beautiful lesson and liturgy for raising a child. I love this poem’s gentle wisdom, its vibrant natural imagery, and its tone – which feels like part guidance, part prayer and part song.

Saleeby is a non-binary artist born and living in southern Maine. They spend most of their time with children, animals and plants, leaning into the magic of play and humbling themselves in nature.

 

Uncle

By Alana Saleeby

 

Do for the child

introduce fumbling hands

to the tools

offer, only, what is of use

 

Be for the child

a mirror reflecting the infinite questioning

witness where space and time resurrect a body

an experience for one

an offer, only, to be of use

 

Carry for the child

what’s better put down

a lightness of grown flowers come autumn

their stalks as thick as my wrists never snap

but bend, lay their flowers face down

their seeds kiss the earth

offering only what is useful

 

Plant for the child

a freeness only seen

when the petals snag a current of wind

and fly and fly and fly

gold slips of sun vanishing

 

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Uncle,” copyright © 2020 by Alana Saleeby, appears by permission of the author.


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