Saturday, November 19, 2005


Beth Ann Fennelly's poem about the first day of daycare (when the mother smells another woman's perfume on her baby) hit a chord, and reminded me of this poem of mine which I dug up. Whether childcare is a purposeful choice for you or not, there are always strange moments that occur when someone else is taking care of your child. My daughter was lucky enough to have a woman who took care of her when she was a baby who truly loved her: played with her on the floor, talked about professional wrestling, made her laugh. On my daughter's last day at that center - when I took a teaching job that had on-campus childcare - I called to check on her. The woman was in tears, and told me she was going to jump in her car with my baby and head out of state. Scary moment. Here is the resurrected poem, my children still love school, and still love to let their mom "have it" when picked up.

Pent-Up Mantra
J.B. Rowell

Not until he sees me
before that I saw him
through the framed glass door
a fish bowl of
toddlers toddling and
baby’s propped up.
He takes it all in
with smiling eyes
watches his caregivers
to and from:
bottles to crock-pot
toys to shelves
spoons to mouths
as he fists inner tubes of oats
nursing them with his tongue
until mush.

He is perfect-
ly content until I walk in
heard over the pleasant din
and although I have been
gone for hours gone
every weekday
to be with the children of others
his head rivets at the sound
of his mother the familiar sound
of the milk processor
the womb he tore from
the comfort he goes without.

And he lets me know
lets me have it
releases a pent-up mantra
sounding something like
Ma Ma and Da Da rolled
into a language of hurt.


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