Poems & Essays

21 Oct

Playground Two

Toddlers to Teens No Response

You can see these children

            at the playground

That little boy

            dressed in a white sailor suit

his mother huddled in black

            never more than six inches away

like an omnipresent storm cloud.

            Or this mother alternating between

sips of something alcoholic in a brown bag

            then smacking her daughter

hard

            with fingers brutal

with thick rings.

            Then there is the little girl

with five teeth

            like the jagged edge of a broken beer bottle.

She only likes to play with the garbage cans

            poking a dirty straw

Into her arm.

These children carry a darkness visible.

            Even the younger ones can 

sense it,

            moving away from the sandbox the same way

my daughter shrinks from bugs.

            Some mothers wish these children

to disappear,

            or at least move to another playground.

But they return,

            day after day,

which is not necessarily

            a bad thing

to see again and again.

Penny Jackson’s stories and poems have appeared in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, StoryQuarterly, Real Fiction, The Croton Review, The Edinburgh Review, The Ontario Review and other magazines. Her stories have been published in the collection L.A. Child by Untreed Reads and her novel, BECOMING THE BUTLERS, was published by Bantam Books. She has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow in Fiction and also a Mireliies Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University. 

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Mother and Child in a… October 21, 2019 Playground Three October 21, 2019