Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
You look like you’re five

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I

You look like you're five,
but you're four.

"I love you," you say,
"but sometimes it's tricky."

II

We sit at the end of the bed and say,
"Get up!"

You swash your legs under the sheets,
trying to row back to sleep.

III

Morning, still. The dog needs walking.
"I want the orange stroller!" you say.
Your bed-pressed blonde hair's like a shout.

I say no. The weather's warm,
and you've two new inches of height
to learn through travel.

Ten minutes later, we've climbed
five-eighths of the hill
that starts at the nearest crossroad.
The dog hasn't pooped;
perhaps he's confused by the wailing.
I'm keeping my chin up—
the sky
helps slightly.
It's grey, like the world's wrapped in wool.

Wool, I think.

Wail, you say. Ail and woe
for the walking, the waking, for love
as a thing that has thorns. Then you stoop
to pick up a twig from the sidewalk;
your pleasure is instant.

IV

So's mine at that light weight of leaves
arriving (and just
in the nick) to your hand.

Twirling the twig, you turn up a clutch
of three green-bellied acorns.
We talk about them, crest the hill.

On the downslope you're once again sad.
The dog's missed his window.
We're all a touch frayed. But the twig

travels with us. And later,
as day lifts and broadens and I
can sort through what's whole and what's tender,

I'll find three green acorns all gathered
into your carseat cupholder
like emblems of what we remember.


Catherine Rockwood‘s poetry has appeared online in Antiphon, and in print in Orbis and Literary Imagination. She also reviews books for Rain Taxi, and produces scholarship on the poet Ben Jonson. She lives in Massachusetts with her family (including one long-suffering labradoodle), and many overloaded bookcases.


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Absolutely love this! The rhythm. The visuals. The acorns! I think your child knows mine.
Thank you!
This is beautiful, thank you. I loved how it seems to sing, how it captures the essential & eternal in the minute & fleeting, and already dear to my heart is that phrase about the hair being like a shout. Thank you for your artistry.
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