Ivory and Lace

Ivory and lace

against the pale of your face,

and layers of sheer

and your two front teeth here,

and your love of the stage, and

your bossiness and rage

and your belt and your bow,

your freckle finger,

your little snaggle toe.


ivory and lace ryanne

Beauty is Not Always Pretty

To my young daughter:

Notice the hydrangea,

both blue and purple.

Blue and purple

are the mealy veins

that line the bulb

of a nose

on that codger

who told you today

that you are not pretty.

Honey, he cannot see

beyond his small

square of green lawn.

You of the tender cheeks.

You of the soprano that rises

out the window as you play

your own piano songs.


Daughter’s Song

by, Heather Keyser

On our hike

with another 7 year old

and her mom,

I refuse to let you

dictate every decision

the group makes

at every fork in the trail.



refuse to walk any further,

and instead you climb around

in a tree,

crouching up there

like one of our earliest ancestors

and shaking the branches at me.

I hate your




Every idea

you ever had

is so

dumb.  Huh!

I wish

I never

had you for a mom.  Huh!


The grass under my feet

is dead and crispy from the drought.


Then, this morning,

you wear your black velvet

tiered skirt

right below your bare shoulders

above your turquoise skirt

on your waist,

and you come into the backyard,

where Dad and I are talking,

to invite us to your concert.

You seat us behind the piano bench,

next to your teddy bear and princess doll, and

you take your seat at the keys

and play us a very long

and beautiful

song you composed just this morning,

entitled “Why Am I Without You.”

I assume that is the title,

because it is what you keep singing




as you play

up and down




I Can Tell It’s Not For Long: Your Smallness

I Can Tell it’s Not For Long:  Your Smallness

Over the summer

during a party at Chuck E. Cheese,

one of the moms warned me,

“Get ready,

because they go into 1st grade

your baby,

but when they come out at

the end of the year,

your baby’s


*        *        *

Somebody already likes you

in your 1st grade class,

and you told me you are pretty sure

you like him back.

I don’t know much about this boy,

but I am suspicious of his

fast ways.

*        *        *

You aren’t even afraid of roller coasters,

you bold girl!

On the other hand,

you don’t know disaster,

dear one,

whose head I look down on,

whose crown is many colors

of blond.



by, Heather Keyser

One morning

we have to go into the school office

to get a “late” note,

and you hold my hand

swallowing and looking straight ahead,

as I make sure the secretary knows




not mine—

you forgot your backpack,

and we had to drive home again

to retrieve it.

The front desk comes up

as high as your forehead.

Later, when I’m plugging

my phone in

to charge

in the kitchen,

I feel the heat

of regret

and my eyes burn.

At dinner that night I look at you

during a pause

in the conversation

and touch your arm:

“I’m so sorry

if I made you feel


this morning

in the office.

You are the


important person

in my life,

along with your sister

and dad.

I am always

going to be




By the time I say the word


I am holding



You get up

and come over

and hug,




for many breaths.

You wrap your arms

around my head,

laying it on

your shoulder.

We both cry.

“Thank you,”

I whisper

into your neck.

Your little sister

climbs up on

Dad’s lap

and they

goof and tickle,

and he asks her,

“Don’t we have

the best



The Shape of Your Face

The Shape of Your Face by, Heather Keyser

With the pad of my finger

I trace a line

around one side

of your round



I end under your chin,

and look


at you

as you look


at me.

I hope you can tell

how my heart


toward you,

almost trembling.


front teeth

that peek out

from slender lips,

your chubby chin,

your faint eyebrows

over starburst white-blue eyes:

it was the same face

6 years ago,

across from me,

bald headed,

in the bathtub

of our San Francisco flat,

as we splashy



It was the same face

that floated in the tub

the other day,

pink and serious,


by bath bubbles,

as you lay back,

trusting the water

to buoy you.

One time I carried you,

strapped to my chest in the

Baby Bjorn,

facing outward,

as I stood in our friend’s

surf shop

and chatted with

a couple of guys.

The top of your head

warmed my neck,


I couldn’t see your expression, but the two guys could.

“Look, she’s smiling,” one said to his friend and me.

The friend answered,

“I know why— it’s because you

just kissed her.”

And I had.

I had just

bowed my head

and kissed

one side

of your