They seem benign with their high voices,
miniature hands and feet, clothes bright
with dancing princesses and fat-faced trains.
But the scooters you fear they’ll fall from
dislocate your knee. Their hair—thick,
shiny—won’t cushion their skulls
that slam against yours, break your glasses,
and bloody your nose. Their lost Legos
make you limp all week. Their soft skin
ferries ringworm; their heads smuggle lice
into your home. As for their breath—
even expressed as I love you, it’s a plague-
bearing wind, a hurricane to flood your sinuses,
wrack your bones, double you up
over the pot, and shove your face inside.
Fear for your kids will clot your blood;
rage at them, fill your veins with flaking mud.
Their contempt—even when they need
you most—will ulcerate your heart.
As you read them The Giving Tree
when you could be battling marlin—
As you feed them the best strawberries,
teach them checkers and how
to turn a double play when you could be
fondling a sexy stranger in a Parisian
café, they’re growing taller,
harder, meaner—readying to shove you—
scarred, tired, old, heavy as stone—
out of the nest long after you’ve forgotten
how to fly alone.