Not all children are poets

Not at all children are poets, but some are.

I remember my four-year old saying, with gravelly complaint and

consternation as we rounded the last lap of tract homes from the 

neighborhood park, “It feels like there’s an elephant in my shoe.”

Those days, I was not a poet myself, so I simply took off her shoe

to see what was the matter, what was in there, a rock or a sock?

Neither of those could possibly be the size or weight of an elephant

but I skipped right over the poetry and assumed the play out of it:

She just meant that something was slowing down her gait, some

obstruction that was making her walk like an elephant, and that

full explanation did not even articulate in my mind, just swallowed

up in the patching up holes and problems, as parents are wont to do.

 

And then those hours of “Mother Goose” nursery rhymes that 

pleased and placated my tiny joy-riding song and wordsters who

pleaded, “Again” after we’d go through the entire night’s rhymes read

before bed time, and all I could think was, “What does this mean, 

‘hickory dickory dock’, mice, clocks and ‘Little Jack Horner’s plum’, 

dishes eloping with spoons and cracked “Humpty” eggs that garnered

so much respect that all the king’s horses and men came to its aid?”

My mind drifted as I sang-sung the words that were impossible to

read plainly, prosaically–meter forced down the reader’s tongue and 

bones–through history, fairy tales and folktales, lore of

cultures and small pockets of rural societies past when these words, 

rules and references made sense, all the while losing the music that 

kept my poetettes lulled to the opiate rhythms of story-song silliness.

 

Only when I noticed their wobbling knees and fatty little fingers 

opening and closing like metronomes to music I forgot to hear, the

pulse of primal iambs that beat like limbic hearts, laughter-ful, wordless 

sense, even while my lips, breath, voice, tongue and ears decoded and 

reproduced the text just as it was meant to be read–filled with 

drama, pause, whole notes and half notes, lento and allegro, 

ha-ha! loud and sh-sh soft as we three piggies word-danced, they

with their poet souls and me with my mimed mastery of lines.

For No Apparent Reason

Like any other morning, I wake up to muffled door rattles or slams,

And the crystal plea of a squeezed bladder–release, sweet release.

The blinds drawn and the clock radio dead for a few years now, I reach

For my phone to check the time: the usual 6:38 a.m. flashes retinally.

Taking inventory, I listen for a high schooler soon to fly out the door,

Perhaps her older sister stirring in poor sleep or kicking the disruptive

Cat out the door to purr in someone else’s ears, perturbations unleashed

For those battling anxiety and depression: IBS, TBI, PMS and US politics.

 
Challenging gravity’s rest, I aright myself and further assess the day’s 

Bone placement as they all align, sink and press in allotted pegs, dips

And slots, and all measure properly without incident or undue notice.

My body has not joined in some stealth overnight rebellion for unpaid

Dues or sins of my youth just yet, and I take my first steps into morning.

Upright, leaning into space opening up to the bathroom door a mere six

Steps from my launch, I begin to feel it: the heaviness, not in step or 

Weight, but an anchor-dragging shadow that resists verticality from

Scalp to balls of the feet, slowing the advancing doorway  to a shuffle.
 

I know I’m already late, but the excursion’s effort, to pee and back, 

Begs my re-bedding just for a hair’s breadth of a moment, I bargain.

Soon, the phone or entry door will vibrate with his questioning call or 

Needy knuckles, reminding me that it’s time for his intravenous push 

And his diabetes blood check and his arm wrap for his shower and his 

Pill box re-filling as it is Monday: the array of multi-colored, go-gemlets 

Shaped like candy paper dots or pez ovals popped out of a clown mouth.

The anchor widens and grows tentacles, linking chain to arms and chest,

Pulling down shoulders and the corners of eyes and lips no breath can re-

Vive, no gratitude check can lighten and release like an emptied bladder.
 

I glance out the now-opened blinds at the orange clusters in threes and 

Fours, heavy with juice, hanging impossibly high at the thinnest branches

At the top, mightily fighting, irresistibly drawn downward while floating

The resistance between soaring, maintaining and falling: mass, space and

Time–all illusion, as is this overwhelming dread and angst that will dry,

Crumble and dust, blown into an afternoon breeze that kicks up after June

Grey dewy mornings drip, clear and stiffen to bolster tender leaves against

The love, need, hate, and anger over their circling heads tethered to a sun,    

The same star that guides ships, unanchored, daylight drifting or swiftly 

coursing waters tumultuous and calm to destinations charted yet unknown.

Another rudder-less morning steering me blindly, I have survived the first

Passage and make my way to the door, enjoying the last five, quiet seconds

Before the physical proof meets the prescient mood, while nothing is wrong. 

 

  

Pre-Mother’s Day

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My children are leaving,
Attending a birthday party
For the evening while their
Father and I dine on wine
By heating lamp on a blue-
Awning’d patio across town.

I wish them a fine evening
And they do likewise for me,
An amicable arrangement, but
I mourn the loveliness of us,
We four of the indominatable
Good middle class’ right luck.

When we were knitted kin, we
All in a bunch, toe to toes
Seated on couches watching
Princesses and Bambi, Barney
And doggies on two leashes
Herding babies on front lawns.

I picture them gone and grown,
Harvesting their own with seeds
Sown before knowing themselves,
Remnants of history forwarded
To Mother’s Days gushing love
Walking out the door waving bye.

Cruel witness to our days’ ends
My own mother sits motionless
Waiting for doors opening wide
Ready for her entry’s surrender
While nibbling-choking pear bits
Sucking air in to wind it down.

Stretches not cycles mark time
Willing us expand and contract
As the earth spins us like dice
Numbers arising lucky and lost
Tossed like mystery dryer socks
Ever seeking our missing halves.