Poems & Essays

17 Dec

At Ten My Son Shows Me

Toddlers to Teens No Response

Bark he found under
the apple blossoms as we walked
down the hill to school
and when he crams it,
as big as his hand, in his pocket

I ask what else?
Finger knitting on thick
white yarn, a long swath,
the yarn ball, a broken
rubber band. He shows too a whole
rubber band as pale
pink as the blossoms
stuck to our shoe bottoms.

How will people read you I wonder?
I say to my son
hair too long, pants too short,
who closes his bedroom door.

An eraser, a rock, two coins
one with a rim newly printed
one with a woodchip on a string
superglued to the eagle
he doesn’t explain.
I want to know, he says,
ask them who I am,
who they think I am.

 

 

Deborah Bacharach is the author of After I Stop Lying. Her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Arts & Letters, Cimarron Review, and Literary Mama among many others. She is an editor, teacher and tutor in Seattle and teaches poetry workshops for children.

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17 Dec

What Matters to My Son at Seven

Toddlers to Teens One Response

The on-the-cement angle of ants,
burps, farts, God’s views on
bad words vs. murder.

He’ll talk pirates, ghosts, the Bloody
Red Baron, the efficaciousness
of dream catchers to catch bad dreams.

My son wants Darth Vader to be his father,
to ride down the hill, the hill to be sky,
the sky pulsing black space, himself a star.

What matters to my son:
four square, rescue chase,
the particles that remain,

iron pyrite, roof tiles
that could become dinosaur scales,
glacial rock up the wrong trail,

volcanoes vs. the Richter scale.
In the back garden he finds
the ancient marble.

Flattened bottle caps
that others rush past
he, in secret pockets, holds fast.

 

 

 

Deborah Bacharach is the author of After I Stop Lying. Her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Arts & Letters, Cimarron Review, and Literary Mama among many others. She is an editor, teacher and tutor in Seattle and teaches poetry workshops for children.

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17 Dec

Swimming Lessons

Toddlers to Teens No Response

My hand used to be there, under his soft belly.
Upheld, he was free to flail and flounder, learning
the how-to and the why-not. Free to terrorize both of us,
while it was all still fun. The learning and the watching.

It’s terrible, the letting go. They swallow the sea,
and the sea swallows them. So small and sink-able.

That kind of watching is prayer, when you can
only wait for them to meet the self that insists
on breath, on life.  The self that will keep them afloat
and alive until they find their own way. Up and out.

Now I am ancient mariner mother, and my boat
carries me further and further away from him,
though I am still shouting instructions.  Always instructions.

Now I am  a speck on the shore, hand to brow,  still  watching
and willing him to emerge from whatever stormy sea holds him
in its grasp. Rough-tumbled, but whole. And wholly himself.

I see him there, shadowed by sea mist
and distance, but standing, and shaking himself
free of birth-waters and befuddlement. Slipping
out of boy-skin. Striding into manhood.

Some kindness in him gives instruction now.
Some grace from the past turns his gaze backward
for a moment’s search, and a sighting, of something
great and imperfect. Waving him on, waving goodbye.

I wonder, does he hear my cry,  mingling with
that of the gulls, raw and raucous, the way joy can be
sometimes? Or has the wind swallowed it; making  it one
with  the sound of the sea,  the music of memory?
Familiar and unceasing.

 

 

Zoe FitzGerald-Beckett lives in Appleton, Maine, where she writes, collages and gardens. Her work has been published in The Sun, Pen Bay Pilot, Zest, Maine and SageWoman. In 2017, she was the recipient of the first prize at the Plunkett Poetry Festival at University of Maine Augusta, for her poem “On the Edge.”

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17 Dec

Ghazal on Worry

Toddlers to Teens 2 Responses

How your concern catches me off guard, your worry.
I awoke early, from my own overflow of parental worry.

The maple leaves in the alcove above the fireplace
are red and burnished, curled but know no worry.

I held all in and let you get out the strong varnished door
without seeing remnants of my relentless worry.

Generations of collected works behind her, the poet speaks
of nothing, everything, silence, the young dead, but not of worry.

Except once Szymborska wrote, I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors which seems to me to mimic worry.

I had hoped a better poem would drive forward in a flurry
of metaphor without hyperbole, in order to highlight my worry.

With roundabouts, I keep intending to exit, my navigation system
advises me as I continue circling, that it’s of little use to worry.

The four exits confuse me and I feel I’m getting dizzy
as Subarus and Vanagons behind me repeat honking at my worry.

So, there you are eyeing me with concern as you head out to exercise
at dawn, impressive in your matter-of-fact rejection of excess worry.

This obsession could become a crash on impact for the sleep deprived.
Mary Ellen would like to pause to park, to toss away my worry.

 

 

 

Mary Ellen Talley’s poems have recently been published in Raven Chronicles, U City Review and Ekphrastic Review as well as in anthologies, All We Can Hold and Ice Cream Poems. Her poetry has received two Pushcart Nominations. Experience working in special education as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in Washington State Public Schools informs her poetry.

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