By Tess Baumberger
In the news a child kills another child
then tries to kill himself.
The police intervene by shooting him.
At least he is not dead,
only injured, still afraid.
And the great blue universe
holds it breath and waits,
swallowing hard, and blinking.
I stand at the window, hugging myself,
and watch my child sitting on the front step,
holding a stick, watching the cars go by.
He tells me not to bother him,
he’s doing something.
I don’t know what exactly,
one of those eight-year-old things.
I remember at his age playing in our grove,
making propped-up houses,
shaky teepees built of sticks,
carpeted with grass,
with the scent of our horses nearby,
their knickering in the lilacs,
the reassuring crunch crunch
of their feeding, their tails’ swish-swish.
Later he walks around the house,
under the maple tree that’s still resisting
autumn’s siren call to yellow.
He swings the stick and sings,
in his off-tune way,
to a world only he can see.
And I notice how his hair is curling
just like his father’s, in the back,
the blonde honeying to brown.
His face is changing, yet again,
His limbs are lengthening,
his mind is deepening
and I no longer know all his secrets.
to the place where that’s all right,
that place where birches
compete with water
for who will be more silver and serene.
Later on, waiting for our pizza
and watching television,
he sort of insinuates himself
half way onto my lap,
not wanting to admit
he still likes to do this.
He leans back as though
it’s an afterthought,
his hair in my nostrils,
his weight on my chest,
his breathing slow, relaxed,
his fingers stretching thin and long
looking more and more like my own,
like my sisters’, like my father’s.
And the green of the evening
lights the shadows of the day
and eases into crevices
worn into the world,
worn by the world.
The great blue universe
clears it throat and hums
in its off-tune way.
And somewhere in the night
a family begins, again, to live.