(by Daniel R. Jones)
I walked in on my wife
Our children didn’t know
they were part of the game.
Some days, she didn’t know either.
Rubbing together two needles
like the legs of a cricket,
she conjures hats, scarves,
the children take to bed.
FIRST WORD: MATERNAL
If I squint it looks like ritual,
the tedium of bedtime routine:
overnight diaper, dinosaur jammies
read two books and brush your teeth.
Boys to the bunkbeds, girl to the crib.
SECOND WORD: LOVE
Golden curls encircle
soap-soaked fur of a
This is love by proxy.
Care for the children
through care for the dog
bought for them to care for.
A pantomime, an acting out
of the second word.
This motherhood is a lifelong game of charades.
The children have an inkling, I think,
that the swabbing of walls stained with crayon,
and the meticulous slicing of hotdogs
is pantomime, a charade of that larger abstraction.
The clues are there and the message pans out.
But they never do understand the scope,
the magnitude of what’s being hinted at.
Even as a parent myself, I suppose,
I never plumb the depths entirely.