I want to teach you a lesson.
But this time, not preventive safety in the playground.
You learned to man slides long ago.
You know fire burns, doors slam, water drowns.
Your body has covered that ground.
I mean to make up not for lost time today
but for new time, arriving, moments on the way
like nails hunting bright hammers.
So that when you need to build your own house
you will know grades of timber, how to find
good boards, you will know how to talk with suppliers,
not just how to contract your work out.
Self-reliance, how to pour foundations,
the harnessing of power from wind and sun,
not just how to read little meters.
How to balance the needs, the demands of your love
with the windmills that turn in your soul.
Yes, and to design and convert and then adapt
shelter to storage, illusion to dream,
mirror to image, reflection to theme.
How to appraise hope, select sound sites that lend
their enchantment to methods of construction.
How to thatch huts, where
to locate clay, how to start, on occasion,
when wolves haunt your heart, when such peril comes
to your door that you won’t let it in
and sadness tears all your walls down.
I want you to know structural integrity
when you see it,
walk you lands proud with love
when you hold it,
inspect the terrain for faults
when you feel them
moving all lessons out from under, giving your heart away,
when the remembering of lessons is unnecessary
because you’re learning everything over again.
-Cella Coffin, written for her son Paul on his 16th birthday