Thinking Again of My Daughter

Our daughter is a teacher, an art teacher. School started this week. Years ago during her first years of teaching, I would smile thinking about her and her students and the wonderful world each would be creating every day by doing art work, each student creating out of what they cared about, each learning from her how to bring their individual vision into being.

Now? I think about that very same possibility and hope, rather than know for sure, that it will happen once again. The school’s doors are locked; security is vigilant; everyone knows what to do in case, and during the pre-school meetings the police instructed the faculty what to do.

I know there is no evidence, no “data” that proves 45 has influenced violence’s terrible increase. All I do know is that implied permission from any leader opens the possibility for those who dementedly believe they are standing up for the hate he speaks.

I, like parents everywhere, hope every day that our daughter returns home smiling over what her fledgling artists have experienced, that they return home.

Thinking Again of My Daughter

Tonight the clouds moved on, and the stars lay
flat against the sky’s black backdrop. The moon

sat full beneath Jupiter’s deceptive white glow,
and Orion seemed to be falling headfirst toward

some anonymous emptiness. I sat on the couch,
skimming across television’s landscape, tapping

the remote like some anachronistic telegraph
operator. Flicking into the past, I saw her

watching walruses heaving their inopportune
selves onto a shoal of ice, Bugs Bunny thumbing

his twitching nose at Elmer Fudd’s exasperated
lack of r’s, music videos, Sesame Street, even

the news and the History Channel. I paused
to watch an evangelist, became as mesmerized

as she did when she first saw Mr. Rogers. I
watched his hands, how they were able to point,

to lift themselves like dumb birds toward only
the roof. I thought how my father had always

pulled my hands out of my pockets, how even
today they feel strangely vulnerable hanging

at my sides. You had lunch today with your
granddaughter. You had a salad and some

pasta. You had dessert. You took her home.
When the news comes on tonight, I’ll watch,

knowing tomorrow night the stars will have
moved. And in the morning, I will walk

the dog, trying not to pull him away when
he stops, fixes his nose on a clump of leaves.

–Jack Ridl

From Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection


18 thoughts on “Thinking Again of My Daughter

  1. My school starts with students next week on Tuesday. We had our active shooter training last January, our first day back from winter break. That was the day that I knew I had to retire soon. I grew up ducking and covering to survive nuclear attacks and now I can’t walk from my library workroom into the collaboration lab because the door connecting them has to remain locked at all times for a fast lockdown if needed. Sandy Hook should have brought change. It only brought “secure entries” in our schools, and training for the innocent. I, too, am thinking of my daughters, one of whom attended the concert the week before the Vegas mass shooting, the one where the shooter couldn’t find a hotel room so he waited a week for the next concert. My daughters, who may one day have children who will attend school. I hope that we have brought better change by then. Perhaps a world in which clear backpacks are not on back-to-school supply lists. Thank you, Jack, for your words. Words matter.

  2. I shopped at Walmart yesterday. This evening, I am going to a presentation at the Jonesport Historical Society…I think.

  3. Good one , Jack! Tell me sometime about the switch from “I” to “You” towards the end.
    And…How goes the Recovery? Anything we can do for you or Julie?
    Looking forward to seeing you a week from tomorrow with the Usual Suspects. 😜
    Be well, my friend! Love to Julie. D.

    • Would have to explain that shift better in person.
      Thanks for asking after recovery which is so slow, months
      to go yet.We will for sure let you know if there is
      anything you dear friends can do.
      See you Friday! So glad!

    • Thanks, Paul. Yeah, saw Max last evening. So sorry that didn’t work.
      Next is a pacemaker. You two will be The Peacemaker and The Pacemaker.
      It is . . .
      Here’s to goodness for you

  4. Thanks, Jack. For bringing up what is vulnerable for us all and giving a moment and beauty and peace through your words.

  5. thanx-4-xpress’ng the ‘personal dilemma’ so eloquently \ this time of year beckons: here in the N, summer recedes in fits& starts until leaves begin-2-fall \ we can envision another seasonal change if we really work @ it — the final rejection of 45 will require more sacrifice than Jon&Jan Q Public ever anticipated \ there must B a thorough cleansing of his insipid whiteness…

    • John, your depth and urgency of eloquence and insight should be spoken
      “throughout the land.” Thank you for posting this earnest truth to power.

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