The children break into my reverie.
Three pairs of cold bare feet
tumbling across the floor,
three pairs of eager hands,
wet and smudged,
and reaching happily
through my door.
Three sets of shining eyes—
and one bouquet.
Bedraggled, broken-stemmed,
brilliantly blue,
presented with due ceremony,
“This is for you!”
I am impressed.
I want to say
where are your shoes?
You will catch colds
wading through wet grasses
with bare feet.
I almost repeat
pragmatic words from long ago:
These will not last …
Don’t you know …
Now that they’re plucked
they’ll wither and die …
I wonder why such thoughts
so very swiftly flee
when three wet children
clamber round my knee
delighting at my sigh
of pleased surprise?
Then, when they’ve gone giggling,
and all is quiet again
I look at this clumsy bouquet
thrust in a kitchen cup,
reflected in the water spilled
upon my desk top.
I think
of all the gifts that I have earned today,
this handful of small flowers,
already drooping their perfect heads
upon their fragile stems
and wilting like my childhood days
which seem so very far away—
of all the gifts that I would wish to keep,
this gift of love has blessed my life today.

To a Child Gone

I thought I was ahead of you in line.
You would take your turn
After I took mine,
Like we did before.
I guess you don’t need new shoes
For starting heaven,
Or a light left on against the dark
The way I always did.
But I’m so used to parenting.
I wanted just to be there—
To do whatever needed to be done.
But you went first.
And now, my little one,
Suddenly you are my senior.
Morning, I know, will come.
But, bring close your light—
This time it is I who fear the night.