How to Hug Your Daughter When She’s Twenty

The nest above your collar bone is for her chin.
This places her breath—grape candy or sour cigarette—
just beside your ear, which is where you want 

it so you can hear the tiny wheeze
from the hive of her lungs and the drumming
of work going on in the branches of her chest. Know

that her shoulders might stiffen in protest,
but this means you can tuck them more easily
under the wings of your armpits. Be aware

that she will embrace differently than you. Expect
her arms tight at her sides, hands restless, fingers 
poised to dial her phone or unwrap gum. Accept

that your hands have their own memories. They
will want to support her head. They may try to
thump her back gently or rub her flat stomach. Try

to keep them still, but, if necessary, you can
give her oily hair a little tug and wonder at its
plum color, its spicy scent. Worry

but not so much that you squeeze her. It’s her right
to think herself invincible, and yours 
to know she’s not.