Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After the Playground


My son has a scar above his left eye,
disappearing now into his black brow,
from the day his friend chased him into a post
of steel and molded concrete in the playground fence.
I knew what would happen next: hospital,
three stitches, removal of the stitches in time,
a scar on his perfect baby face,

but I didn't predict this vanishing act
at fourteen, the mustache like a smudge of soot
on his upper lip, the full sensual sneer,
the way he refuses to move his jaws
when he speaks, or show much more than scorn
for a world that deserves his mockery.
How easily he hides the mark of pain.

Kathleen Kirk is the author of three poetry chapbooks and the poetry editor for Escape Into Life. Her poems appear in a number of print and online journals, including Leveler, Blue Fifth Review, and Right Hand Pointing. She has two children, a daughter, sweet 16, with a brand spanking new driver’s license, and a son, the boy in the poem, now a beautiful young man, just turned 21 in June. She blogs about poetry, random stuff, and reading at Wait! I Have a Blog?!

More from

Girls morph, boys turn overnight into someone you hardly recognize. It's all good, though, because they come out men in the end. Lord knows if they stayed the way they are ate 13 or 14, nobody would ever marry any of them! Quite a moving poem. I'm noting a bit of Sharon Olds influence.
Oh, Kathleen, so true. I see plainly the scar from seven stitches across the back of the Woolly Mammoth's head that reappeared each summer when he got his soft puppy dog buzz cut. His wonderful friend girl has no idea it is there.
How is it that a fourteen year-old boy is quite taken over by scorn? His clueless stance is more about you, than him. Rather I think it is you who feels "a world that deserves his mockery." Be honest and write your own rebel-down-to-the-ground-in-surround-sound poem.
Thanks for you comments, all! Chris, I see "scorn" as a stage many teenagers go through, the family often coming through fine on the other side of it. As you say, "a world that deserves his mockery" reveals the mother-speaker's stance as well as the son's, a mark of my own honesty.
It's a wise mother who knows her own son. It's a wise poet who can speak for both.
Comments are now closed for this piece.