First Steps
Grant Clauser
Celebrating firsts is what we do.
She took her first steps. We clapped
and made a video. She graduated
kindergarten. We made another video.
A cabinet in the living room overflows
with videos, first bike ride, first dance lesson
and then there’s all the firsts we skipped
but remember anyway. First breakup,
first fight with us, her parents. First apology
I made from the doorway of her bedroom,
pink walls and her small body wrapped
around a teddy bear. Enough firsts I can’t
even count anymore or know what to do with.
Sometimes I count the phone calls, the things she misses
so far from home. How even a simple text message
in November is like an unexpected visit.
She tells me about school, the new city
bright in its unrest, but lonely, the way a room
with only a television playing can be lonely,
some news anchor’s exhausted voice
the only thing she hears.
More firsts coming that won’t end
with a video in the cabinet.
She says she’s joining the march,
heading to the streets, her first time
shouting herself hoarse before a wall
of police with shields and helmets,
for something so big it overwhelms her,
so strong it takes all her friends, arm in arm,
to sing it into the night.

Grant Clauser is the author of the books Necessary Myths (2013) and The Trouble with Rivers (2012). Poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review and others. By day he writes about electronics, teaches when asked, and sometimes he fishes. He blogs occasionally at Twitter: @uniambic