Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Elmo

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In the laundry pile
The only pure white thing
Was the eye of Elmo.

I had too much on my mind.
Like a toybox
In which there are three Elmos.

The hand that clutches Elmo:
Smooth, plump, delicate, perfect.

Blocks and a puzzle
Are two toys on the floor.
Blocks and a puzzle and Elmo
Mean it's time to clean up.

I do not know which I prefer,
The quiet anticipation before Sesame Street,
Or the silent absorption during.
The sound of Elmo giggling
Or before.

I saw the face of Elmo
Where it did not belong:
On the car floor,
In the carnival arcade.

Thin women of Trumbull,
Why do you covet silver rattles from Tiffany?
Do you not see
The Elmos at the feet
Of the children around you?

I know Gina is a veterinarian.
I know she used to be in day care.
I know the same guy is the voice of Elmo
And of Hoots the Owl.
I know my kids watch too much TV
and so do I.

At the edge of my patience
A cup of red juice fell on the floor.
It bore the face of Elmo.

At the sight of Elmo
Slipping away under the stroller
The bawls of a toddler
Cry out sharply.

Tell Elmo
To move over.
Mommy needs a nap.

Elmo has been flung from the crib.
The child must be awake.

It was morning all last night.
The toddler woke
And woke
And was going to awake again.
Elmo sat on the dresser.

Madeline Bodin lives in Vermont with her husband; four-year-old son, Josh; and eight-year-old daughter, Leah, who is also a writer. (“But I don’t want to write for newspapers like you, Mom.”) Primarily an environmental journalist (Northern Woodlands, Newsday), her work has also appeared in publications including Publishers Weekly, Call Center Magazine, and Ski Magazine. She is working on a book, but it is not a novel.

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