To my daughter, Margaret Rose

By Diane Martin

Margaret Rose, age two. Illustration by her mother, Diane Martin, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Daughter of the sheer heights and lush green valleys of eastern Europe, your deep blue eyes and somber expression silently sweep over your little world of nature in our yard.

As a tiny infant, you spent much time solemnly watching the bare branches of the wind-thrashed trees.

Already a contemplative, you observe the newly budding leaves unfurl into the sun and look with intense enjoyment at the brilliant yellows and purples of spring.

I do not know what you think, my child, since you seldom divulge to us the secret world of your mind. That you ponder deeply, I can read in your eyes and firmly set mouth.

These are the times when your moody temperament, well known in the lonely pasture of the Carpathians, has its strong grip on you.

Both a protection and a means of escape, I hope you can learn to control the temperament that can grip the soul like a vise.

Tiny in stature but fierce in spirit, I can see you scuffing with the hardest of heads in the neighborhood school.

No one, but no one, will ever get the better of Margaret Rose, named after a gentle grandmother, but possessor of a dynamism that is boundless in energy and terrible in the face of injustice.

At mealtime, you eat like a little old lady, tearing a bite piece off your morning bread and dipping it into your milk. You smack your lips lustily over the soppy morsel.

When I bake, you make certain that you have sampled of every ingredient on the table. You hide your hand behind your back and deftly slip your little finger into the mix when it appears to you that I am not watching.

When I return your steady gaze, all I see is the tongue licking the lower lip. Our eyes meet and we both laugh, for you know full well Mommie saw all.

As you trot about the yard, pulling behind you a heavy red wagon, you shout to me, “Bye Mommie.”

I know you will re-appear around the line of bushes, eyes full of laughter at having supposedly fooled me, but already my heart breaks as I see you saying, “Bye, Mommie,” in 18 years’ time, to begin a life of high adventure setting after near-impossible goals.


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