Blind in the Hall

The way of this life is a tenuous one.
My son flirts with joy at a cherry popsicle
in the afternoon and that evening
must stand his ground in the backyard,
when he tells his new friend Stuart,
I am not a baby. You think I’m a baby.
The way of this life is a tenuous one.

Stark midnight opening its door to us
breathes as vital as the fear, lasting long
past Halloween, lingering in his room
like the scent of human waste, pushing him
out of bed, blind in the hall, to our room
where he approaches the bed,
places one careful hand against my arm,
as if to say, I have come in here. I am here now
with stark midnight opening its door to us.

The routes away from the house are a lure,
marked and unmarked, clear and unclear;
the honeysuckle lining the chain-link fence
can trap him or hide him. He can suck the juice
or crush the blossoms under his boots.
The driveway leads to cracked pavement
that he can skip away on and follow in a crooked line
that never turns back on itself.
The routes away from the house are a lure.

No burn from the summer sun is as lasting
as the yellow yarn he glues into the shape of my name
on a piece of thick cardboard and leaves,
an unknowing jewel, on my chair. There is a room
for these things or there should be. He is hot to know
what butthole means and why he can’t say it.
What is a “bad hat?” How come Madeline doesn’t like Pepito?
The unused water in his plastic pool fills with webworms.
No burn from the summer sun is as lasting.

As the moon no longer reaching his bedroom window
haunts the Rose of Sharon bushes
that make a hedge by the patio,
it also sweeps the ground into equal patterns
of tree and person
so that no one can lose herself out there,
out there where planes glitter, semis squeal,
and a cat searches for the witless mouse
beneath his bedroom window. Snow White figurines
gather dust behind his dresser, and the mouse lies,
a stiff curl in the fall leaves, as dead as the moon
no longer reaching his bedroom window.

The way of this life is a tenuous one–
stark midnight opening its door to us.
The routes away from the house are its lure.
No burn from the summer sun is as lasting
as the moon no longer reaching his bedroom window.
The way of this life is a tenuous one.

–Shaun Perkins

NOTE: This is an old poem, written when Luke was young, and like any parent, I was in perpetual fear of losing him. I didn’t.

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