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