On letting my kid go to the volcano from which she brought back fresh lava

It hurts you when you hold it. Resentful
Of your thin skin your nerves that scream
Your wondering fingertips wincing
Along crevices. Not ready to take its place
As a hard sharp thing. Birth is difficult, the clean
Hot liquid womb a descent full of forcing
Out. And however cautiously you brace
Yourself, children are so hard to set
Free. Distrustful of your squeamish care.
So beautiful it hurts when your forge it.
In this almost-Spring, a hammering out
In the smithy of creating, a laying bare.


The Curious Case of the Incident in the Kitchen

Such a good word, ‘supine’. I 

Thought about that, sighing, as I 

Felt the bones uncrack, the muscles

Unscream, the nerves unjangle, 

Stretched out my crumpled spine,

Happy to finally uncurve my back. Of

Course, that is when the kitchen chose

To attack. First I heard the mixie whirr – 

The younger was there pottering and I

Seriously thought it had helicoptered away

With her. I ignored it. The demand on my

Supined Self was high, and I couldn’t afford it.

Then came the shrieks and squawks, the splash

The spill. I mean, forget explosive, we’re talking


Long story short, it was everywhere. Banana mango

Ooze on counter, cabinet, oven and chair, gloop

Underfoot and glops in the hair, and the wailing

At the loss of labour and shake too much to bear.

The family wonders now why the kitchen is shining.

I wonder what happened to my plans of supining.

My Art Will Go On

“You know”, I say, as I tuck my fingers between hers,

“My teacher put balls of crumpled brown paper

Between mine.” She grimaces, part ai-ai part

Ew, but her fingers figure out what to do.

She fans them out, positions the bow,

And launches into the famous Titanic ballad. Slow,

Painful, amid much cracking and clattering,

I hear the music emerge. That is how I know

It goes on. This feel of the wood singing

Under the fingertips, forgotten so long

The urgings of the kid bringing the old 

Joy surging back into the veins. The art

Strains the wrist, but the heart 

Has little respect for middle age’s aches 

And pains. And goes on. 

The family portrait

…is always taken by someone else,
Have you noticed? Pictures of
Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters,
Children, husbands, wives, can
Always be taken by wives, husbands,
Children, sisters, brothers, fathers,
Mothers – as long as one of them
(husband, wife, brother, sister, child
Parent) is missing. Why is the one
Taking the picture (boy, girl, man,
Woman) never seen as part of it?
The one who sees when she’s
Looking pensive, or catches him
With the sun in his hair, the one
Who sees the kids in temporary
Truce, just so. What is absent about
This taker, this stealer of moments?
The family portrait is perhaps
Overrated. Posed for a stranger. Its
Importance overstated.

Gratuitous Picture of Dog Attached (You’re Welcome)

My daughter thinks time stands still
While she plays with her dog. She’s not
Done licking my hand, she explains, chill,
Mom. It’s late, maths awaits, but what
I clearly don’t understand – the eye-roll
Punctuates the exasperation –
Is how time and tide wait, and no bells toll,
And the earth stills its rotation;
Clock hands twiddle their thumbs, because
The dog and her human haven’t played all day.
And here’s the riddle: Why is it so late, calculus
Takes so long! she wails. This is probably not
A good time to weigh Time taken against
Time spent, and when we wonder where the years
Went, will those hours learning calculus
Help us calculate value-per-lick versus
The short end of homework’s stick?