sheep

Why I love children

I love their whimsy, how they abandon themselves to fun and are able to find it in almost all things. And how they have not the slightest fear of judgment or disdain.

In Tongue years ago, way up in the northernmost reaches of Scotland I popped in to a local shop. While browsing I spotted a wee lassie there with her father, dressed up in her lovely kilt, a matching tartan tam perched at an angle on her head.

She was curious about me – and watched me, as children will do – her eyes following me around the shop.

Standing alongside her I pointed to a tiny toy sheep displayed on the shelf, which was dressed comically in a full perfect tuxedo.

I asked her, quietly: “Now what would a sheep be doing dressed in a tux?”

She thought about it and then announced, seriously:

“Maybe he’s goin’ tae a weddin’.”

church-cross

Reverence

I can’t step into a church without being reminded of Leo.
I see him, leaning heavily on his cane, waiting in the vestibule
to usher the parishioners to their seats,
his labored gait up the aisle, one leg stiff,
the shoulder of his Canadian Legion jacket strewn
with medals and ribbons.
In the stillness the rubber tip of his cane
squeaks loudly against the polished floor.

The star resident at her mother’s boarding-house,
my friend Linda said we should visit him.
He’d insisted,
and there had been toffees promised.
Restless and bored one spring day I relented,
followed Linda home and climbed the stairs lazily to Leo’s room.
Unlike the others his door was open.
There was Leo, lying on his bed, his cane alongside,
rest the only respite from his affliction.

Come in, close the door.
Feed my bird Charlie.
I worried then about telling my mother this.
But Leo wasn’t a stranger.
Everyone knew Leo.
Father Blackwell told us in catechism class
it was men like Leo who had kept us free.
The shabby room smelled of wet wool
from clothes drying on the radiator
and of Old Sail, his pipe tobacco.
A bowl of sweets beckoned by the bed.
Charlie was bustling about in his cage.
Sit beside Leo, honey.
A good Catholic girl, I did as the hero said.
The bristles of his beard stung my face,
his breath turned to a rasp.
I smelled something fetid on his breath.
When he released me
Charlie was singing,
still.

mathematics-572274__180

September 1st and 2nd

September 1st

The obligatory backpacks bought,
The sectioned notebooks and the cornucopia of Sharpies,
Heralding the dull march back to classrooms, schedules.
In its forlorn wake a trail of
Unhurried pancake breakfasts
And lying perfectly still on a sun-scorched dock,
Until perhaps trailing a finger,
But only one.

September 2nd

Boats pulled out for the season
Children rushing to school
And like a switch was flipped overnight
The water in the bay now darker
Deeper

resized bronze child

Friendly Fire

 

 

He would sit under the kitchen table
About an hour before each mid-week transfer.
Clockwork.
Just sit, wrapped up in himself.
Quietly, not even petulantly.
Resignation in the set of his shoulders,
A look in his eyes
Not of sadness, but worse,
Surrender.

little girl

Forget Everything.

Today’s prompt from my writer’s group “Forget everything” prompted this… assisted – ably – by three cups of coffee.

 

The Deceptively Simple

Forget everything you’ll never know about
Quantum physics
And oil futures.
What constitutes prime.
Leave string theory
For the committed.

Focus on the knowables
One at a time. Small bites.
Start with the deceptively simple.
This:
How to Talk to a Small Child at a Party.

Just like you would anyone else.
No special voices. They hate that.
No crouching down like you’re best friends.
Share casual observations.
Recommend the artichoke dip.

Do it right.
Before long
She’ll end up beside you on the couch
Asking your name
And your opinion of the latest Star Wars.

shopping-cart 840x400

No One Wants to Fail

This new poem is about choosing to not look away, but to notice.

Painful, yes, and there are easier choices. But it seems to me I have never had a choice. Perhaps others feel the same. And out of this decision to simply not look away comes so much, in ways I have no doubt are untold.

 

No One Wants to Fail.

From the cart behind me
I hear the commotion.
The little boy refuses to bend his knees
So his mother can place him
In the child’s seat in front.
He stiffens,
Screams.
Another child tugs at her skirt.
But she has had enough.
The shopping trip is sacrificed.
She yanks them through the exit doors,
Her face set in anger.

The boy will wish he had obeyed.
His sister will see it all unfold.
The mother will wish it was otherwise
But feel powerless to make it so.
Who among us
Wants to fail.

angel statue

Hard Evidence

There are so many gods. I like to believe there is one just for small children.

 

Hard Evidence

Ahead of me in line
I catch a glimpse of two tiny white feet
sticking out from a baby seat,
uncovered on this October morning,
the soles black.
Around each of the frail ankles
lies a ring of grime.

When the baby’s face bobs into view
I see that she’s captivated
by the jeweled butterfly on my lapel
and smiles wanly.

Shall I pin the treasure to her stained sweater
Spirit her away
Teach her the names of all the creatures that fly.
Shall I wash her sooty feet with the finest velvet
And dry them with my hair?