How My Children See Me…


I wonder this like a tossed coin or playing card standing up on its edge.
Darkness closes in as I wade the shallows of sleep. Its current carries me
From my otherwise quiet bedroom. Over night, in its deepest, furthest

Regions, I am too far out or too far gone to recall bumped furniture’s sudden
Sharp report across the floor, or a soft whimper that would express
Tired and cold after the woodstove dies down and windows frost up.

Like living manna, little ones grow around us in bed, three draped between us,
One on the pullout, another curled like spaniel or setter at the wide foot
Of wide sleep.

It is the same when I go away for awhile. I will hold
Myself at an arm’s length of mind, cock-eyed, like someone vain trying
To shoot himself with a camera:

The boy, I wonder too, sees himself,
In me, but probably doesn’t or can’t now that he is caught up in the time
Of being too much a boy to see what manhood promises for him one day.

My oldest, she sees in me a faithless hero whom she has willed to love
The whole of – even the grumpiness which will grow like whiskers
At the short end of every day.

My middle one is fierce and psychological
All at once; she sees through convenient sibling alliances as tests of will
Chalked up to, tallied up and, with a hard hug for her old man, put up with.

The tow-headed two-year-old stands against her own grand confusion
With sky-blue eyes rimmed a teary red, two being the age of terrible things
Like bones breaking out of their own infancy. She sees me in violet tears.

When the youngest only gurgles his milky morning song in bed beside us,
He is considerate and smiling through yawns at the pre-dawn light.
I reach to kiss him farewell. Brute, nubby fingers fumble for me, clinging to see.

– 2003


  1. That’s lovely. I see that they are all quite a bit older now, but I’ll tell you one thing, though. When they are as old as you were when you wrote this, they will tell you things that amaze you about what they were thinking and doing then. I mean, my kids were for the most part homeschooled, so they were with me almost all the time, but I’m still surprised.


  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    Idle curiosity here, JOB: How closely would you say their 2014 selves match their descriptions in this 2003 poetic snapshot?

  3. Yes, pray tell. How does my 18-year self compare to my 10-year old self?

    • You do know you’re going to have to do an updated version soon, don’t you?
      There are now four more and someday they are going to wonder why nothing was written of them….

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