A child grows weary and crooked in her
furrowed family’s embrace.
Unhappiness long etched lines in their faces,
Trace gashes from daggers honed by meaningless jobs,
Repetitive steps, thoughts and temple-rubbing or hair
Pulling to fill gas tanks and pantries,
Emptiness in the earning, gathering, and slipping
Through grated fingers, past throbbing hearts’ content,
Devalued and alone, lost in dreams of stopping,
Just ceasing: road-miles, emails, phone calls, pulling here
Pushing now over there, back there again, counting up, down,
Eager for a weekend collapsed– to create a moment,
Build a tower, topple a sand castle, and rub sea granules
through the sensitive skin dipped between outspread toes.
A child might misunderstand her father’s misery, her
Mother’s edges on especially rough days.
A child might suffer, sliced and bled,
Her joy punctured by worry, burden and weighty
Unbelievably unknowable interminably slow sinking
Beyond her breath-leaking life raft.
Photo: Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother