for Eilidh

I loved your age of wonder: your third and fourth
and fifth years spent astonished, widening your eyes
at each new trick of the world—and me standing there,
solemnly explaining how it was done. The moon and stars,
rainbows, photographs, gravity, the birds in the air,
the difference between blood and water.
In true life? you would say, looking up
and I would nod, like some broken-hearted sage,
knowing there would be no answers soon
to all the big questions that were left, to cruelty and fear,
to age and grief and death, and no words either.
And you, like me, will sit and shake your head.
In true life? Yes, my sweet, strong daughter, I’m afraid
there is all this as well, and this is it: true life.