Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Third Graders

One comment

If they eat your heart for breakfast, warm
with a heaping scoop of brown sugar.
If mouths full of too-big teeth jut

at cranky angles. If backpack bananas
mold, green furring overdue books. If
nails clipped on blue sofa

bite, pricking crescents,
tiny teeth in navy sea. If clothes shed like snakeskin
—morning, night—skins,

floors littered with skins.
If scalps are lit with glitter
or beach sand

or lice.
If clean room means stuff indiscriminately
under bed, in closet, on top of dresser, and other

cluttery prepositions. If a perpetual shortage
of socks and underwear and polite.
If a perpetual abundance

of bedhead and sobsound and sass.
If a busted abacus
of red, yellow, and blue beads scatter, roll

under dusty couches, down a heater vent. If
shattered—your thoughts,
sentences, conversations—by their

pop-ups. If toilet's
clogged or left unflushed or seat's
sprinkled with driblets. If they ask you to palpate

shoulder blades in case
wings are budding. If leggy bodies collide
with crayon grace. If you,

armfuls of rainbowed
papers and cardboard castles
and cereal box robots, sneak

past Bed time! Lights out!
to recycle. If all you offer: a thirdhand
piano, a ratty attic,

a slender cylinder of mercury. Cherry
angiomas. Myopic eyes. An odd number
of wisdom teeth.

They'll share
spitty mouths and sour mint
breath, cold fingers deep

in your pulse pocket.


Dayna Patterson thinks third graders are wonderful, old enough to be independent, young enough not to have hit puberty’s wall. It is a sweet, sweet spot she’ll be sorry to relinquish as her daughters grow.


More from



Its a thought-provoking poem.
Comments are now closed for this piece.