Ask A Poet An Abstract Question…

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“Mom, what is the meaning of life?”
Oh, it depends on which meaning you mean.
Sometimes it’s amorphous, ephemeral, obscure—
Other times it’s the spaces in-between.

I’ve glimpsed it in sunshine and moonlight,
Walked its beat in a graveside procession.
Been smacked by a smile, a laugh, a look,
Lost its trail in shrouding depression.

This question is too complex without context!
I could fill books with the conflicts I’ve had.
Saints and philosophers have failed as I—
“Umm…thanks, Mom, I think I’ll find Dad.”


My kids ask me a lot of questions, big questions, and I do go on. Sometimes I can tell it’s all rushed over them like a gust of wind, barely ruffling their intellectual hair. Other times, we spend an hour talking about cremation or self-respect or kindness, and I feel like I’ve made a little bit of an impression. I think we owe it to them to try, though, even if they won’t get it until they’re adults. Every bit of understanding of the human condition leads to self-awareness. Self-awareness plants the seeds that blossom into empathy, and good grief, do we need more of that.

I also use a great number of words my kids don’t know or understand–yet. How’re they going to learn them if they never hear them? Slap out those five and six-syllable monsters and then define them. It’s hugely entertaining when they work them into conversation later.

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