Tag Archives: childhood

Up in the Air

“I’m too shy” you said,
with a vulnerability
any 10 year old boy
would only show his mother.
And new to the neighborhood,
who could blame you
for imagining the humility of rejection
if the boy down the street
didn’t want to come out and play
and make a new friend,
which is what you hoped for
as you held the rocket launcher in your hand
and took a few steps into the street.
So I continued without you—
and in the minute it took to walk
between our house and the boy’s,
my own imagination
filled in ten thousand blanks
and I saw you two playing in the woods
catching toads
building forts
tracking mud into the house
fighting over a girl
playing baseball in the backyard
shooting arrows
falling out of trees
double dating
best man-ing—
and after I rang the bell
and watched the boy run toward you
his father and I talked about
where you and I lived before—
and he told me he was military, Air Force,
on their way soon,
like one of your rockets,
to they didn’t know where.

 

 

DeMaris
6-4-18

 

Carved

Of all the poems I’ve written, this one is probably my favorite. It reflects the many times I’ve contemplated the death of my youngest, who has various health problems. I often wonder if it might be offensive. No doubt some mothers won’t agree with the sentiment here. But I see life as beautiful not because it’s smooth and easy (it’s mostly that), but because it can be so damn hard. And how happy would you be if your heart had never been broken, scattered and rearranged?  Have a listen.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/w9izpilvtqtngar/Carved.m4a?dl=0

Now

The childless mother
wants to be alone on Mother’s Day
to stare out the window
into the world she no longer shares
with the little boy, who long ago,
brought her glistening dandelions
bursting from his little brown hand
and decorated her hair
with the yellow joy of life—
treasures collected after a storm
turned the earth to mud.
That day wasn’t Mother’s Day—
but it’s the one she remembers
on the second Sunday each May
when she’d give anything to go back
and withdraw the reprimand
for the traces of mud he left
on his way to make her smile.

 

DeMaris Gaunt
5-9-16

Speed Limit

Going the speed limit
it takes ten minutes
to get to the hospital
and in the car
with you on my lap
it felt like twenty
and the simple directions
on the side of the Epi-Pen
were written in English
which might as well
have been another language
as foreign as the doctor
who saw in my eyes
the universal fear
that transcends words
when a child is in peril
this time
after eating a peanut butter cookie
camouflaged in white chocolate
as thick as the conversation
at the Christmas party
where your father and I
were the only ones
who didn’t believe in god
and when we took you home
hours later
we put you to bed
and lay awake taking
about how grateful we were
to all those people who worked
to save your life
with all that
accumulated information
in their brains
and those inventions and machines
that took years to develop
and test
and then your father sighed deeply
before turning out the light
and said into the darkness
how amazed he was
that we got to the hospital
in under five minutes.
“Miracle,” I said
and he agreed.

 

DeMaris Gaunt
12-24-13

Countdown

We carved our pumpkins
that dreadful night
we learned how long
we could expect you to exist
in your current and only form.
Inoperable was the word
we didn’t want to hear
and as we scooped out handfuls
of that stringy pulp,
we tried to focus on your joy
instead of that small round patch of hair
starting to grow back
above your ear.
You were looking forward
to Halloween,
which would be your last,
and the costume you chose a month ago
before we were sure
the countdown was on
happened to be a skeleton
with glowing bones
and a plastic skull mask
with blinking red eyes.
Only now does it seem
a sobering choice.
We lit the Jack-O-Lanterns
and roasted the seeds
and tried to carve happy smiles
into our own faces
because we weren’t sure yet
how to tell you
or if we should,
and I hated those pumpkins
for their bright grins
and removable lids
that could so easily be replaced
after we lifted out what
wasn’t needed,
and because I knew your light
wouldn’t fade so gracefully
when it was your turn to enter
that eternal night.

 

DeMaris Gaunt
10-27-13

Autumn Cold

Can’t we just admit
that silence is an effective form
of communication?
It’s been days now
since each of us felt wronged
by the other.
I only offered you a hat
for the cold day, which annoyed you—
because I offered twice.
Once should have been enough
to shut me up,
so you snapped at me
for failing to consider you might be
old enough to know what you’d need
for the first cold day of Autumn
at the orchard.
And so the day was ruined—
as well as those that followed.
But we have apples now.
And pumpkins.
And a child so happy
that he never noticed his father
waited in the car while we walked
through the corn maze
and bumped along on the hayride.
Had he inquired—
I was ready to tell him the truth—
the temperature was unforgiving
and daddy’s ears were cold.

 

DeMaris Gaunt
10-19-15

 

Mountains

Sometimes
you want the mountains
so badly
you have to throw
your car keys across the room
and cover your face
with both of your hands
for an entire minute
and hope you have the will
to walk over to the mantle
and look at the photo
of your second-grade son
who would become
as unstable as ash
if you decided
you couldn’t wait
another ten years
before you walked out
on every promise
you ever made—
so you stumble through
another day
that isn’t heaven
but is nowhere close to hell—
and you commit
to another decade,
day by day –
knowing your beloved child will,
by then,
have his own beloved—
his own set of hearts
to start breaking—
and his own gray mountain
looking glorious
in the dark blue distance.

DeMaris Gaunt
9-29-15