Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Missing the First Day of School

Missing the First Day of School

A corner bobbing with backpacks
and parents standing sentinel
a brood of not-quite babies
bounces aboard the yellow school bus

Mothers and Fathers,
cross-armed, lips pressed,
walk in a pageant of pride
and tears back to their homes

In six primary hours
the children will return
hungry, tired, talking
of teachers and crayons
new friends and lunchbox
treats: home again
safe and sound

In a different town
another mother
hides behind drawn curtains
sits with a cold cup of coffee
imagines her missing boy
how tall he might be now
and, somewhere, another father
takes the route that doesn't pass by
his missing daughter's school
he cannot bear to see her classmates
stepping with joy into
new books, shiny hallways
the treacherous fraud of tomorrows

The missing children play only
in their parents' nightmares
in a schoolyard of vacant slides
and sad swings that sway
into the forever empty future

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