Poems & Essays

19 Dec

Carry Me, Walk Slowly

General/Column 3 Responses

No adult was present when he was pushed. He was just playing with boys. A kind of playing that always looks like tigers clawing. I cannot get involved, lest my eyes be gouged. Then, suddenly, the same boys sit quietly looking at the Star Wars Encyclopedia. Suddenly, they are cozy, tigers transformed into house cats. Sometimes it seems that all boys are brothers, provoking determination, starting holy wars.

When he was pushed, he screamed. A noise familiar to me, a simultaneous ache and annoyance. Yet I am the mother. I always look.

I saw blood first. Blood from his lip, pouring. Blood on his teeth. “What’s wrong?” I said. Meaning, what happened? Meaning, I love you I love you I love you and I don’t know what to do.

Then a tissue. A hug. Still, screaming, and after minutes alone in a bathroom, still screaming. “My armpit hurts. I can’t move my armpit!”

Then six hours in the ER. X-ray after x-ray showed nothing. I tried to sleep, but it was 2 a.m. in a hospital with a crying boy on my lap. Then it was 3 a.m. Still nothing found. A splint. A drive home. A few hours. A few days.

This boy is three. The movement of his thought is visible. Sadness. Joy. Sadness. Joy. His mind turns and learns, discovers. As a mouse, he can be gobbled by the smallest of house cats. As a mouse, he finds the tiniest entrance, nibbles at anything left uncovered.

In the ER, he wouldn’t walk. Wouldn’t smile. Wouldn’t do anything but sit in my lap and nibble Cheddar Lay’s. When we moved, he said, “Carry me. Walk slowly.” And we did, the night playing in my head.

He was pushed. I wasn’t there. Blood. Doctors. Splint.

Carry me. Walk slowly.


Sara Dutilly is a stay-at-home mom to three children under the age of six. She writes, reads and homeschools, and she bakes sourdough bread more often than she cleans toilets. She has been published in Mother’s Always Write and r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly Journal, and her short story “Nine Months of Peanut Butter” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She blogs at www.haikuthedayaway.com because, as you’ll see displayed on her blog’s homepage, she believes that motherhood is, above all else, poetic.

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  1. Lorna

    January 8, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    My son is almost 4 but still wants to be carried sometimes, even if he’s not hurt. I’m trying to enjoy it, because pretty soon I won’t be able to pick him up 😛 I hope your little guy is ok.

    • Lorna

      January 8, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      It also reminds me that we want to protect our kids from, like, everything all the time. Is that too much to ask??

    • Sara Dutilly

      January 9, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you, Lorna! My son loves to snuggle with me all the time too!

      He is okay. The doctors never found anything, so likened the injury to a bad sprain. But when our kids are hurting, I’m not sure diagnosis matters so much (of course, if something is very wrong, then the right treatment is extremely helpful.) What I mean is, it’s our job to comfort our children in the midst of pain, no matter the diagnosis. Yet, when our kids hurt, we hurt. In the hospital that night, my heart ached with every twitch and cry my son gave. I went on the journey of comfort alongside him. I know we all have experiences like this with our children, but I think because of the mysterious nature of this injury, it was especially poetic for me.


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