There she lies
Turning nine before my very eyes
Turning nine before my very tired eyes
Effortlessly, in her sleep
Bigger now than she has ever been
Yet half the age she’ll be when she leaves home.
Before my eyes she is turning
The age her oldest cousin was
When it all began
I have eyed nine for a long, long time now
Fixed a bead on it years ago (she wasn’t yet one)
Been staring it down like a sherpa stares down a mountain pass
Equal parts dread and wonder.
I will live through her ninth year if she lives through her ninth year
As she lives through her ninth year.
And when we get through to the other side of nine
Three hundred and sixty-four days from today
Hearts and souls and cells intact
And we will
Because we must
I will heave a sigh of relief
And so long
It will encircle the globe
Looping and looping
Over mountain passes, across inky oceans
Until she’s damn good and eleven
And I tire, finally, of fear.