Had I had children along the way,
two boys, a girl, the perfect three,
wouldn't they have played the games
I see the children across the street play
in the backyard and driveway of their
parents' house: classic, old-time games,
the games I played all day in the pebbly
alleyway behind my parents' house:
hopscotch, hula hoop, jump rope, and tag?
Wouldn't they have been hesitant
to put an end to it, to come in for the
evening and eat the meal I had cooked?
They would not hear the words
of our adult talk, kicking each other
under the table, confronting the task
of the food-filled plate before the gaze
of the overseer. After dinner, my children,
snapped back into the set agenda
of adult time, would make a bid
to postpone the inevitable with shared
entertainments (better than none).
But I would only think of money
and time's loss. I would, having felt
lonely all day long, long to be alone.
High-minded and with proper stiffness
I would send them by turns into
the baffling isolation of their own
rooms. They would resist, for my
children would know that once
in the exile of that artificial darkness
their infantile pleas for compassion
would be silenced by the paralysis
of obedience and sounds that loom.
But wouldn't my children be able
to quiet their fears without me,
focusing their attention on the
clock, the rumpled pattern
of the sheet, and so on? In silent
talk they'd learn their thoughts
and speak to the things beside them.
Then, fingers tapping a little charm
to fend off nightly evils, my children
would work quickly to lock their
secret inventory into future memory
before kidnapped by sleep.