Monday, June 27, 2011

Little Boy

Mother tows you
down the sidewalk
you drag slowly
in her hand.

A stick!  A stick!
Must stop for it!
Oh, how lovely!
You trail it along,
head bent to its ticking,
clicking over each crack:
this this this
Mother Son Stick.

At the coffee shop
you get a cookie,
walk with it so
very carefully.
Big Brown
Peanut Butter
on a turquoise plate.
Your glasses are difficult,
black and hard,
the cookie wants to slide off
the shiny plate,
the door is huge,
the latch is up up up.
Can glasses stay put
can hand hold cookie open door?

I love you so much
in your concentration,
your balancing act
of desire for the cookie,
and to do what’s right:
not break anything
not lose anything
to be grown up.
I want to help you,
but I think you might
misread my smile
as mockery.
I’m grown up,
my glasses,
thin and umber,
scooch down my nose
towards my yellow book,
my difficult reading:
The Myth of Freedom.
I love you.
I can’t help it.
And, I can’t help you.
You make it out the door
in your own eyes
and mine.

On the patio of the café
you spy a Radio Flyer
red in the sun.
The stick, a cookie
and now this.
You pick the black crusty
handle up & look around
for approval.
Is it OK?  Can I take this?
Is it mine?
Where is mother?
You look at me,
(Simon says . . . .)
but I am all green light;
books and cares
dropped from my
reading glass eyes.
I will say yes,
but you don’t know this.
(Simon’s a trickster, isn’t he? isn’t he?)
The world is your little red wagon:
Grab hold and go.

But already there is fear
inside you,
the widening divide
of loss,
of others,
of judgement:
I’m not your Mother.
I don’t know what’s best.
You drop the handle
and run
and hold onto her dress.


  1. oh, the ending is heartbreaking. but even as mother, the boy would still have fear. he still has. i just tucked him in. i know.

    beautiful point of view writing, jane. is this boy one you know? a memory?


  2. Thanks, Erin.
    I wasn't sure I could pull this off. I was doing some inner child work in therapy and began to see children in a different way. I felt a lot of empathy for them because I was remembering myself as a child. In this little boy, I imagined I saw the man I loved as a little boy and I felt such a rush of love for him and his struggles to balance his desires and not mess up, to do what was right. I wanted to help him, but he needed to go through that door himself.
    "my little girl" comes from a similar place, though, of course, my little girl is me.

  3. Everything is coming to me like this right now. Raising children, and the realization that we can't do it all for them. Or for anyone, adults too. So this effort to enter the man you loved as a boy, and feel the beginning of pain, strikes me as quite a compassionate deed. To get inside a child's mind and understand that fragility, and fear, is painful. I don't want to go back there, but until a person does go back, it simply waits, a heaviness.