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Samantha’s Daily Poem

November 23, 2014

The meat section

We’re at the grocery store
and you point to the meat section

what animal is that, mama

it’s been a long time
since I ate meat
but I can tell it’s a cow

but cows aren’t pink

you say this quite loud
and for some reason
I feel the need to whisper
the part about the blood
and then I smile
at the man beside me
who buys the lamb
and doesn’t smile back

you ask me what he bought
so I tell you
and you want to know
which one is the chicken
and do they sell roosters too
and where are the pigs

so we look at all of it
up close
under plastic skin
and your chin
starts to quiver

what if these are mamas
and their babies miss them

but suddenly
your face brightens

they probably
die the families at the same time
so they stay together
in the store

I say
you are probably right
and we finish our shop
holding hands.

Posted In: Parenthood | no comments
November 22, 2014

Allergic to shy

You’re wearing a black wig
and a piece of felt around your head
as a witch hat

you had big plans to dress up
for our trip to the library

to show the librarian
that you were pretending to be
the character in the book

but then you realized
that everyone would see you
and you say

I’m allergic to shy

I laugh
which makes you stomp
and throw the shoe horn
you were using as a wand

so I apologize
right into your ribs
which I tell you
is a shortcut
to your heart

and I ask you
where you learned
about being allergic

you remember mama
at the aquarium
that girl told us
she was allergic
to selfish.

Posted In: Parenthood | one comment
September 25, 2014

My four-year-old poetry teacher

My brain is jammed
with the noise of errands
and the poem knows it

hiding away
in the quiet
of my ribcage
for a way
back in

which is how I came to see
how the noticing
pours out of you
blunt and new

like the colour of the girl’s hair
in your drawing
that is neither brown nor blonde
and you tell me
it is like a paper bag
which of course it is

and how you describe
grandpa’s face
as mushy
and that a frog
would feel like a bird
if you held it tight
in your hand

and how nuns
look like Red Riding Hood
in black and white
and how library books
smell like closets

so I kept asking
and the answers dropped out of you
obvious as stones
each one a lesson
in what it takes
to be a poet.

September 15, 2014

Working from home

I have a meeting with a graphic designer
who I also consider a friend

but still

I text her to say I’m running late
and she should come right in
and then it occurs to me
that she might hear the hum
of my breast pump
from downstairs

so I text her to tell her
what I’m up to

I add a lot of exclamation marks
to make it seem funny
or at least less awkward

but when I read it over
it appears as frenetic
as I feel

then the baby wakes up early
so we try to make her happy
by letting her chew
the graphic designer’s pen
while we try to unpack a conversation
out of a knot
of interruptions

I make her a cup of tea
which she can’t drink
because the baby
is in a lunging phase

but I use words like
and we stuff budgets
into the quiet
between the crying

so I feel it’s gone well
and I’m silently pleased that I remembered
the meeting at all

and then she says
in the kindest voice

I think you have a black bean
on your collarbone

and of course I do
which I pick off
and only later
do I wonder what she thought
when I ate it.

Posted In: Parenthood | one comment
September 14, 2014

Some kind of rapture

We walk around the lake
and you are grumpy
because that boy at the playground
told you Let it Go
was a stupid song
and when you told him
he was a bad person
he said he could punch you
if he wanted to

and I am grumpy too
because I’ve been trying
to get your sister to sleep
in the stroller for two hours
and I don’t want to carry her
because of the kink in my neck

which is when we see her
dressed in black
on a bench
her music stand set up
beside the path
her cello
between her legs

I ask her
if she’ll play us something
and she’s shy so I can’t hear
what she says

but the music comes
rich and throaty
and sad like what I imagine
an oak tree would sound like
if it mourned

she finishes
and tells me
that was St. James Infirmary

I tell her
she should record it
because it put my daughter
to sleep and parents
would pay a lot for that

and you have been quiet
the whole time
in some kind of rapture
so I ask

what did you think, lovebug

wondering if we will buy
a cello today or tomorrow

and then you answer
your face still bright
with reverence

I love her rainbow socks.

Posted In: Parenthood | one comment
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