Fear The Children ~ Charles Harper Webb


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 ventolin inhaler la copii 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.