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For Olivia, on Your Ninth Birthday

Hey, there, nine-year-old! You’re pretty special,

With your sassy sophistication,

Your biting sense of humor, and

Your ever-growing list of skills that I

Don’t have like sewing your own clothing and,

Wow, speaking Japanese. I am impressed.

I did not have my act together half

As well as you when I was turning nine.

Perhaps my favorite thing about you now
(Beyond how sweet you are) is that you share
My love of books, and every single night
We read our books together side by side,
Silently trying to push ourselves to learn
New things and become more than we were before.
In these moments it is not at all
Uncommon for me to stop my reading, watch
You for a while, and say: I’m honored to be your father.

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