It is heartbreak when you hear your young
child mimicking the worst of your attributes.
A foul word slips off his tongue
and then another. He shushes you quiet
and gives you that wretched glare
you swore you’d never pass along.
The one gifted to you from your own mother.
There are days you rise, reciting a promise
that once more you’ll be better, more patient,
more loving, and then, like the slow boiling
of the tea kettle, your cheeks warm.
You can feel the ache, the tightening
of your jaw. You want a moment alone.
A flashback to life before children.
And just as this thought flickers before you
there he is again – this time
holding your cheeks between his sticky palms
to steadily lean in and place
a kiss atop your furrowed brow.
Jessica Malone Latham, M.A., is the author of cricket song: Haiku and Short Poems from a Mother’s Heart (Red Moon Press) and of the poetry chapbook, clouds of light (wooden nickel press). Her Japanese poetry has appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies. In addition to writing poetry of all forms, her prose has been featured on NPR’s local station, Brain, Child, Literary Mama, Mamalode, Mothering, SpeakMom and Tiny Buddha. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two young sons. Find more of her work on her website: www.jessicalatham.com or visit her blog: www.rowdyprisoners.com.