Posts Tagged ‘children’



for my children, for all children



I want to give you the kind of day we didn’t have today—

a day when the wide blue sky makes you rush outside,

when we go to the park and meet your friends

and you run to greet them—you hug and play chase

and tag and tackle and whisper in each other’s ears.

I want to give you a day warmed through by laughter,

with crisp green leaves already on the trees.

And on our way home we could stop for ice cream

and joke with the women at the counter

about how there’s not much news to share.

A day when you can’t imagine being afraid. When

you fall asleep not wondering when someone we know

will die. Instead, the world gives us this day—

this day with its fears and its warnings—and

I give you what I can: A scarf to play dress up in.

A homemade pumpkin pie. Dance party in the kitchen.

Three tired and perfect words. Open arms.

A reminder the sleet will make the grass green.

Secrets I will keep for now to myself. The slow tide

of my breath beside you as you fall asleep.

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Circle Time



The teacher is singing, her voice

a bluegreen moss that softens the room.

I don’t know why I make a fist,

but I let my left hand land

on the back of the boy beside me.


It makes a sweet thump, as if

he is hollow inside. And I like it,

the sound of that thump.

And I do it again. And I do it

again, my fist a warm stamp


on his silence. The teacher

is singing, her voice a leaf

that whirls through the room,

and I hit him again, not

to hurt him, but because


the thump sounds so good.

The teacher stops singing.

She looks at me and the boy

and asks us what is happening.

He is hitting me, I say,


and the boy does not say no.

She sends him to the corner

to sit alone. This is when I learn

to lie. Beside me, the space

on the rug is silent as wool.


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Annual Check Up




The doctor checks their pulses,

their ears, their throats,

knee reflexes and weight

and dubs them healthy,

gives them high fives

without mentioning

(did he not notice?)

that they have wings.

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It is hard to not resent the ants
and grasshoppers, even though
they are doing the only thing
their bodies know how to do—
to eat what is green as they find it.
They do not know that these greens
are the first pea shoots, that if only
they waited another week or two
there would be thousands more leaves
for the eating and still enough left
for the peas to mature.
But no, they take the first green,
and now in the row against the fence
there are long stretches of nothing
but broken stems and empty earth.
Just today my son asked me
what a mosaic was, and I told him
it was the act of making art
out of broken bits of things.
Wouldn’t it be funny, he said,
if the whole world broke and
we made a mosaic from what was left.
My whole life I have clung
to some idea that the world
could be more whole than it is,
and then today, a twist.
I’m not saying I don’t resent
the ants, the grasshoppers
and their wake of fruitlessness.
I’m just seeing that everything’s broken.
And then there’s the art of the mess.

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By page twenty, things
have not gotten better.
Vivian clenches into my ribs.
She does not seem to breath,
as if her silence might help
the young boy with the two
evil aunts who beat him,
rebuke him, and lock him up.
Finn, curled into my other side,
twists at the hem of his blue and gray
flannel pajamas and fidgets
with a pillow’s edge. We are all
hoping for something miraculous
to happen, and soon. Something wonderful.
Something to stop all this
sinking we’re feeling. By page twenty-six,
things are still not better
and it is long past bedtime
and I cannot stop reading
until there is something brighter
to end the night. I can feel in this
chapter of dulled hatchets
and threats, how I want to offer
my boy and my girl
not just happily ever after,
but happily now. Though I also feel
how even this now, with the boy in the book
tripping and spilling all of his magic
into the ground and the aunts hurling “wretched” at him,
and “miserable” and “twerp,”
there is something here more than
happy, something that straddles
real and unreal, the three of us curled so closely
into each other, so warm and still
trembling at the edge of despair.
It is like that feeling of falling
right before sleep, and you don’t know
where you will land, or when,
are you really falling? could it hurt?
only this time we’re falling together.

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We took a ride
in a one horse open
sleigh today,

and I was one horse
and the red sled
was the open sleigh

and the kids laughed
and reeled as we
trudged through

the field and
searched for the perfect
Christmas tree,

which was not
hard to find.
The noon sun, it caught

in large facets of snow
and we sang, “o’er the fields
we go, laughing …”

but just as we got
to the laughing part
and I was belting

“Ho ho ho,”
the kids began kicking
each other and throwing

snow in each other’s faces
and tipping the red sled
so that they tumbled out

not giggling at all
but shrieking,
“I hate you! Go away!”

And this is how
the bliss goes,
sometimes it looks

a lot like bliss
and sometimes

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