Beginning This Day

My daughter sits at the breakfast table, brown sugar topping her cereal. I have been watching as she moves her grown-up spoon from bowl to mouth to bowl again, her brown eyes flickering, until,

almost as if by chance, she notices me gazing at her, my head cocked to the right, my smile looking like it must when, on a clear winter's night, I gaze beyond Orion at stars a thousand light years away, and feel blessed

by the miracle of generations that has brought me to just this particular moment when she looks up from her cereal, hunches her shoulders, squints her entire face at me and says, ``Stop looking at me. Why are you looking at me? I don't like you doing that.''

For every thing there is a season, I remind myself, trying not to feel diminished as when I look at the distant sky and think how the light I see may be nothing so much as a ghostly illusion from stars that have been dead for centuries.

My daughter is almost four. At her birthday party, there will be games, ice cream, cake, and candles that she will blow out. ``You're not going to be there,'' she informs me, ``because ... no boys.''

I grin, but she reminds me again, ``Stop looking at me. I don't like you looking at me.'' She puts down her spoon and covers my eyes with her hands, as though she knows already something about shaping reality.

Against the dark of her hand, I hear the beating of my heart. Light enough to begin this day, I think, light enough.

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