Searching Between Her Toes

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Searching between her toes

Every once in a while, something falls into your lap that takes your breath away and makes you believe that life can really be charmed. I’m so lucky to have met some of the most creative, giving, brilliant people right here in my hometown. And earlier this year, one of them wrote my daughter a poem.

His name is Sam. He’s a professor, a poet, and a ninja. Like for reals, he’s been on American Ninja Warrior. Twice. He’s one of our local gems and one day earlier this year, he got inspired by a little video that I shared of Maggie. When she was little (and even sometimes still), Mags would do this thing where she would sit herself down on the carpet and search through her toes. She would just pull them here and there and look in between them and try to figure them out. And Sam wrote a poem about it. It just speaks to his nature and his heart and his fullness as a person that he spun this one little idiosyncrasy of Maggie’s into a poem that makes me cry every time I read it.

I realized I never shared it here, and it’s too special not to share. So I hope you enjoy. And thanks, Sam. xoxo

Searching Between Her Toes
                                           —for Maggie

It is hard not to admire the child
who searches relentlessly for something
between her toes—

stretching the thin webbing of skin
between her big piggy and middle one,
tickling the soft edges of her foot
without even breaking a smile.

Scientists with one eye in their microscopes
and cancer cells on their slides have concentrated
less than this girl on her toes, her fingers
tracing the fault lines near her cuticles.

She has not been walking for very long.
Her feet, once caressed and kissed
by parents in her crib, have only known
the Earth’s unforgiving surface for six months.

How does one not envy this child,
alone on her striped yellow rug—
back bent yoga-like until her nose
meets her toes like a hummingbird’s beak
meets the nectar of a daylily?

Each toe, a tiny almond of skin and innocence,
not yet weathered by miles of walking
through a splintered and fractured world.

Watch out for glass, I want to tell her,
and nails and table legs and broken sidewalks
uplifted by the roots of ancient oaks
that can bloody and bruise your little toes.
Move swiftly over puddles and gaps
that will try to bury you.

I do not know what you’re searching for,
little girl, in the tiny pink spaces between your toes—
but I hope as you grow and stomp
and march through the gravel of life

that you will never stumble
that you will never stop
until you finally find everything
that you have been looking for.

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