I’m not typically a poetry guy but I found this poem (The Writer by Richard Wilbur), and the email from Jay Payleitner, worth my time. Read the poem a couple of times, even if you’re not a poetry guy. Can you identify with this father’s heart? He listens to his daughter struggle with an assignment and remembers the joy they shared as they saw a trapped bird struggle, then fly to freedom.
The Writer by Richard Wilbur (1921 - 2017) In her room at the prow of the house Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden, My daughter is writing a story. I pause in the stairwell, hearing From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys Like a chain hauled over a gunwale. Young as she is, the stuff Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy: I wish her a lucky passage. But now it is she who pauses, As if to reject my thought and its easy figure. A stillness greatens, in which The whole house seems to be thinking, And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor Of strokes, and again is silent. I remember the dazed starling Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago; How we stole in, lifted a sash And retreated, not to affright it; And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door, We watched the sleek, wild, dark And iridescent creature Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove To the hard floor, or the desk-top, And wait then, humped and bloody, For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits Rose when, suddenly sure, It lifted off from a chair-back, Beating a smooth course for the right window And clearing the sill of the world. It is always a matter, my darling, Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish What I wished you before, but harder.
It’s never easy but our kids are more resilient when we stand near as they struggle, and resist intervening.
Jay Payleitner is a friend and the editor of How to Disciple Men (Short & Sweet).