Pantoum for Attachment


My sister the Buddhist says it’s my problem.

I say it makes sense I don’t want to let go

the hand of my daughter as she sleeps this morning

in the bare room, or the bare room itself for that matter.


I say it makes sense I don’t want to let go

—the worn rug, the coffee mug left on the mantle

in the bare room, or the bare room itself for that matter,

the million invisible atoms we’re breathing,


the worn rug, the coffee mug left on the mantle,

the half-lit smile she’ll make when I wake her,

the million invisible atoms we’re breathing—

I want it, of course, I want this touch to become


the half-lit smile she’ll make when I wake her,

the nutshell of her small brown head.

I want it, of course, I want this touch to become

enough for the rest of whatever is coming.


The nutshell of her small brown head

turns in her sleep like agreement, cunning

enough for the rest of whatever is coming.

A bird cries morning. Watch as she


turns in her sleep like agreement, cunning,

into a woman in a raincoat by the side of the road.

A bird cries. Morning. Watch as she

(anyone, not my daughter, this other, this vision


of a woman in a raincoat by the side of the road)

walks under the sky as if it were breathing.

Anyone, not my daughter, this other, this vision

I must, my sister says, release. She


walks under the sky as if it were breathing

in all the loose thoughts of a collective sun.

I must, my sister says, release. She

doesn’t understand. Why should I let go?


In all the loose thoughts of a collective sun,

where lies the love my grasping mother-love

doesn’t understand? Why should I let go

of her tender-boned, still small hand


where lies the love my grasping mother-love

builds a nest to rest in? I would make a sculpture

of her tender-boned, still small hand

—a totem to carry against the future,


a nest to rest in. I would make a sculpture—

the hand of my daughter as she sleeps into morning,

a totem to carry against the future.

My sister the Buddhist says it’s my problem.

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