None of Her Own

I am the woman

who cares for other people’s children,

nipping at the corners

of the things real mothers do.

 

My decisions are temporary, makeshift things,

my power borrowed.

Let’s see what mommy says, is my refrain.

To the parents I demure:

But of course, I’m not a mother.

 

While they are mine

I fill their days with crafts, hikes, stories,

lavishing on them attention they’ll never get elsewhere.

No hitting. No name-calling: they know my rules well.

 

And when it comes time

I ship them back to their real lives,

scrubbed and exhausted, shouting after them:

Come back soon,

Miss you already,

 

I watch them run away laughing

and once inside their mothers arms

they do not even think

of looking back.

 

I am the woman

who cares for other people’s children.

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