You have given your son a plastic watering can
he now holds suspended over the bathtub
watching a stream of water shower down
upon the smooth, white surface.
As he fills it again you reach for your book and open it
to a favourite poem hoping to thwart
this staggering boredom that comes from sitting
crouched in play now for three years.
The poem is well-rhythmed and vivid,
turning a handful of simple moments
into a kind of rhapsody,
causing the little wings in your chest to rustle and flap,
all because of a peach, an arched bridge,
a walk in the garden.
What I want to say to you is,
lift your eyes off the page.
Put the book down and direct
your gaze to your small son.
The bottoms of his socks have darkened,
and patches of water spot his jeans but still
he carries on with his industry,
broadening his scope to include
the tiled shower stall and the little perched sink,
feeding liquid down into each silver gullet.
Look at his face, the way he is so rapt,
yet at the same time open
to the full enjoyment of what he is doing.
These are the moments of his life,
which are the moments of your life, too.
The poet has crossed the bridge,
he has finished the peach and tossed the pit
into a snarl of bushes and gone home to sit
by a blazing fire where you are not invited to join him.
Step out from the thicket
of your mind and join your son instead.
Follow the damp footprints down the hall
and watch as he pulls a heap of soft blankets
to the floor and fashions them into a nest.
He wants only that you climb in with him, that you sit
together taking turns, first him, then you,
his little finger pointing. You are the Mama bird, he says,
and I am the baby.