Yes, oh yes,
I want to do enormous favors for you,
the kind involving cash, and inconvenience,
and driving long hours, all over the state,
preferably in the rainy dark, on deer-crowded
back roads, in complicated maneuvers
involving your car, your sister’s car,
a mechanic whose garage we can’t find
in the dark, and some guy named Lloyd
who we don’t even know,
but this day wasn’t a big enough mess
so we threw him in,
because you know for certain that
when everyone else says No,
You can ask for help from one person who
may well grumble or write a poem about it,
but will eventually pick up the keys and say
Tag Archives: poem about teenagers
Yes, oh yes,
The shy boy, who never speaks in class,
raises his hand now, when the subject matters.
How much violence, he wants to know, how
much gore can he include in his novel
of a science experiment gone horribly wrong?
Next to him, the girl doodling flowers
says she hasn’t started yet but
is thinking of a children’s story
about a pony, or possibly a unicorn.
Later, face shining, she stops me in the
crowded hallway to show me ten pages
of scribbled notebook paper.
She says, I’ve changed my mind.
Now, it’s a romance.
So many bells, he says.
Every day here is broken into
the same question in every class
and many strict blocks of time.
Tired but polite,
the new boy from Pakistan
Your country is so very clean
it feels almost like a movie set
where everyone must adhere
to the bells, the script,
the tight shooting schedule.
He gathers his books.
It doesn’t always look real
he says, as another bell rings.
Now, to the Good Mother List
of things I’ve done for you, I’ll add
last night, when I wanted
tea and toast in my pajamas. Instead
I drove to the city in rain and dark
for dinner with an old friend in a crowded restaurant—-
Not because I was anxious to see my friend or eat a $15 salad,
but for you and that question in your eyes
that wonders if I’ll be okay when you leave home.
Truth is, some days I’ll be content
playing my own music,
not cooking or tripping over your shoes,
watching Downton Abbey instead of James Bond.
And some days I’ll be bereft
mourning the lost country of childhood
we can never return to
an ache I can’t describe
which is just as well since you suspect
but don’t want to know
These are rehearsals.
Before the curtain rises
on that show about empty nests,
Ten minutes, an hour, a day
with no one asking
for money, food, rides.
Test the quality
of the air at midday,
Soft as the leaves on maple trees
when the wind dies down,
quiet as nights without crickets.
“Roofs are easier to fix than roads,”
says the historian in her dry, reedy voice
which explains covered bridges
and opens the possibility of
the perfect graduation gift.
Along with that Irish
about roads rising to meet you,
knowing they will roll their eyes
at your choice,
after much consideration
The Perfect Gift
for setting out into the wide world
My work in this world
wanders its cities in two bodies,
his, hers, once mine.
Bodies given, year by year,
all I knew of patience,
kindness, how a sense
of humor eases the rough patches.
But also captive witnesses to all
I knew of frustration, grief, anger.
Everything I had to offer
carried like a package inside their
own true selves.
And they go traveling
Half-formed and half-dressed
never bothering with a warm coat
determined not to shiver
and admit their mother was right.
They set off into this world that
will please and praise and batter them.
I chase them down the street,
waving mittens and advice, calling out,
Wait, there’s one more thing I forgot to tell you.