Walking the kids to school my small fry asked
would I carry her bag. Truly the weight
of the world has been assigned the first-graders
at Sherwood Elementary. Each book
is a rock hewn from the dawn of the world.
She had her lunch in there, too, a couple
of crackers spread with cream cheese, a carrot.
These are dark days, I told my little one,
darker than the Dark Ages.
At the corner I could go no further.
The bag was like a sack of titanium.
Perhaps if this were the moon, and gravity
weren’t such a bitch. I felt my heart ticking,
next thing I was face up on the sidewalk,
staring into her eyes. The crossing guard
had run over waving her flag. Man down,
I thought. I made an effort but the books
had me pinned. Next the sky was spinning, and I
heard my daughter quoting Assisi, all
of the old masters. Next she was emptying
the bag, handing the books one at a time
to the sweet children gathered on the grass.
They strewed them into the air like flowers.
Augustine hovered momentarily
above my face. When I stood, it was not
without dizziness. I took my daughter’s hand.
In the end she led me like a lamb, straight
into the horns of oncoming traffic.
—from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
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