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« "One Plus One" [Haiku by David Shapiro] | Main | Hello Best American Poetry readers, and a Goodbye to Paul Newman [Jennifer Michael Hecht] »

September 29, 2008


I write about rage, that's who.

This Parenting Thing

which I love which I hate
the love part easy not torture at all

like his asking spell furniture while we wait
outside the Rogue River Fly Shop

like checking to see if the faeries came
his digging with a blue shovel while I weed

the broccoli the kale and even asking
over and over for a gummy worm

which I will not give him he’s already
had three and that’s just the beginning

the first few words of the brook
that flashes and foams that keeps on

with its garter-snake awe with its ant fascination
all of it not yet drooped not yet fallen in a heap

till all that’s left’s a rose hip
a hip you could dry and make a tea with

but will you? But that’s the least of it
barfing croup a temperature of 105

the day he rolled off the changing table
the day he ate the insect repellant just be lucky

they’re healthy how dare you hate his sneakiness
his thrown-out crusts just be lucky you don’t live

in Nigeria where polio’s making a comeback
just be glad you don’t live nearly anywhere else

but what about my one-year old her three or four
or sometimes fifteen nighttime feedings

can I hate what sleeplessness does to a brain
like I’m caught in amber whenever

multi-cellular beings formed
dragging along reaching for sugar caffeine

like some brachiopod some primitive bivalve
a little closer I’ll admit to all that lives

but not quite sane when she starts to choke
on a piece of grocery list the firemen storming

where is she? to de-lodge the marble or dime
to turn her upside down and whack her

till the bead or pebble slips out
though by the time they arrive

I’ve pulled out the guilty party and she’s cooing
Love it? Love it? Yep yep especially

the notes that come from school
Riley helped a sad friend today

or looking up to see in place of her face
a lime green plastic plate anticipating

my peek-a-boo! though could live without
the half-way through yoga right when we’re about

to start on shoulder stands I think she wants
her mama though bet you’d find it hard to believe

feeding her mashed peas and rice I’m already
longing for the silver and crimson spoon

for what falls to her sleeve but then she’s screaming
and I’m screaming over her screaming

carrying on the conversation hating
what she takes longing for evening’s relief

though longing too for morning though dreading the bib
and the apple sauce wriggling her into pink plush jeans

though not wanting her anywhere close
to asking for keys and meanwhile my son

can’t stop asking where is it who has it
and all about the kid who owns it now

forever and ever until he discovers there’s one with spots
and that one will do which lasts about fifteen minutes

my whole life snatched away for procurement forms
for reading him Goodnight Moon and Click, Clack Moo

for lifting her up to the doctor’s scale
watching the numbers line up

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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