Tag Archives: childhood

Square with Rounded Corners

The picture of the two of us,
pulled from my suit-coat pocket,
leans on my dresser.

Square with rounded corners,
faded blue ink–
Kodak May 1980–
printed on the back.

I scanned it for my lock screen, too,
so I can see myself
leaning up against her in the slanted spring light.

The first few days after
Mom taught me how to die
were simpler–

but when I walk outside,
leaves are turning and
afternoons are darker now.

Lazy Ovals

I’ve scolded my son for riding
the old green bike
(the one with training wheels that used to be his)
when he runs to get it before his little brother can,
riding it gleefully away from him.

Today, though, his brother wasn’t home;
so he pedaled slowly
around the driveway, pulled gently
at the duct-taped edge of the handle
as he rode.
I heard him talking softly to himself and
humming as he made lazy ovals
in the bright sunshine.

He kept going
until his sister called to him from the porch,
asked him what he was doing.

I heard the first words of the story
he began to make up,
then turned away so I wouldn’t
hear the end.

Spiderman Pajamas

Standing at their top
in the old house on the hill,
it seemed a long way down
the steepness of the dimly lit stairs.

From below in the kitchen,
you called my spiderman pajamas
superman.
I thought to correct you —

but even at nine,
I knew it didn’t matter.

Driving to work this morning,
it was even more remote
from the concerns of this day
or the decades in between.

Yet there we were,
among the forsythia
and apple blossoms
in the brightness of spring.

There’s a much more involved prose piece in here; but for Mother’s Day, this is the essence.

Spring Haiku #3

blossoms emerge —
incessant rains engulf
hopes of children

I sometimes feel as if a haiku isn’t enough of a post, as if eight words aren’t worthy of a week’s worth of creative work. And then there are blossoms; it is incredible how much of our own experience they bear on their tender petals and stems.

Almost Nine

Today is the final day he is almost nine.
As I worried he might,
he holds my hand less often.

The world pushes in on us;
the spaces in which we can hide —
just the two of us —
are more difficult to find,
simpler to disrupt.

Yet on this day,
his brother and sister
already gone from the table,
he pauses at my shoulder.

Even as I pull him onto my lap,
I expect him to continue on
to his book or simply something else;

but he sits
and softens.

Later, in the quiet of a too-late night
my wife whispers to me,

you should have seen his face.

Newest poem in the Years series.

I Walked in the Woods Today

I walked in the woods today
far under scattered clouds —
though it didn’t make me a boy again.

No dog by my side
circling ahead and back,
no sense of wonder at where I might emerge.

Patches of snow from an indecisive December
lay astride the path and filled in hollows.

Straining for the distant sound
of my mother’s voice
calling me in from play,
I heard only birds calling.

Nearly a month from moment to paper, when everything but renunciation seems a struggle.

She’s Rearranged Her Room

She’s rearranged her room
and proudly invites her father
to admire the work.

It makes up most of her world
on this summer afternoon —
careful placement of
well-worn friends,
books for reading
in the pillowed corner,
a place she has reserved for
hide-and-seek
just behind the bed.

If you lie right there
you can reach the fan, she tells him.

Turn it on, she says —
it smells just like the outside.

Her father looks out the window
as he turns the switch,
the ancient glass curving the view
across the lawn.

It really does, he replies,
tasting in that breath,
just for a moment at
the back of his throat,
the back of his memory,

his own childhood
rearranged room,
just-so and steady.