The Look

detail of hand-painted silk robe, 1987

I watched a guy sitting alone, yesterday.

He was in his early 30’s. Young.

At the table next to him sat another man with his daughter of about 4 years old dressed in a pink dress and barrettes holding her hair.

The first man had a book on his lap but he only pretended to read.

His real interest lay watching the table next door as the father gently negotiated breakfast with his daughter.

They were so connected and I could sense an easy and loving exchange between the two like they were of the same skin.

And of course, they were.

The other guy kept his surreptitious gaze on them for a long time.

He was enchanted, it seemed.

Curious, mystified and longing.

Awed by the simple theater unfolding of father and daughter.

It was the look of a person who was not too familiar with kids and had none of his own but wanted the heart-splitting love and utter trust that seems to come with parenting if you’re lucky.

I know this look of which I speak.

One can only concoct it if you’ve never had children. And I chose not to.

My art career always came first and in all honesty, I was never drawn in that direction.

Until now. Now, at a spry 55 years of age.

Now and only now do I know in my bones I would have been a great mom.

And so.. if you watch me carefully, you can catch me with THE LOOK sometimes.

Secretly watching others in that most precious of love-zones.. healthy family.

What does one do with all that love in there that went unused and unrecognized for the good part of a lifetime?

I often watch as I turn it on teenagers.

Kids hangin’ on the corner so wrapped up in whether they look right get a gentle and direct smile from me.

Money, sometimes.

Behind their “I’m so cool that I can’t say thank you” demeanor, I know they soften in my presence.

And so… I move through life spreading little tid-bits of love like that to the younger generation.

I know it makes a difference because I remember those that smiled at me.


One Response to “The Look”

  1. Peggy L Nelson on August 30th, 2010


    I know the look that you write so beautifully about and here is a different perspective.



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