“Conversation” by Joe Mills

Joe Mills


Daddy, what are these?
my three year old daughter asks,
pointing to the car grill
and the dozens of insects
we have smashed
while driving around.

I want to say “spots”
or “nothing” or
“I don’t know.”
I want to put off discussions
like this until she’s older
or at least with her mother,
but I know I can’t.

Bugs, I say, Just bugs.

      Why are they there?

We hit them.

She knows this is bad;
a boy down the street
was hit by a car
and taken away
in an ambulance.

     Should we take them
     to the hospital?

No. They’re dead.

We carry the bags
into the house
and unload the groceries.
Later, after dinner
and the evening bath,
we work on a puzzle,
and as she tries
to figure out
how the sky
fits together,
she says
without turning around

     They don’t want to be dead,
     do they?

No, I say, No, they don’t.

from Rattle #31, Summer 2009

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