Sunday, July 17, 2011

Talking to Strangers

I didn’t want to scare you
But you keep begging me to let you ride your bike by yourself around the neighborhood
“I hate you, Mommy, why do you have to be such a safe mom?”
So I thought it was time (though not realizing it was time for one of childhood’s many deaths)
And I told you about the little boy who got lost in New York and was stolen and killed
I didn’t say chopped up I didn’t say tortured, murdered, who-knows-what
But you paused and looked at me
And I knew I had ended something for you
Some state of innocence and trust
Different from “Don’t talk to strangers” and “Some people aren’t nice “
You tried to hit me and you wept and I knew the anger wasn’t only at me
But at the horrors of the world and its monsters
(The ones I can’t stop writing about)
And the tears were for that little boy
With his long locks and somber black clothes
His tiny bespectacled face
Sweet and wise
And so, so beloved
You cried just as I had when I read it a few nights ago
(But I had no one to lash out at, no one I loved to blame)
You were crying for him too
And for you
And for the unattainable wide open streets lined with endless trees, the cool breeze drying up the salt sweat on your brow
Legs growing muscle as you pedal though space
Unfettered and unharmed and loved enough to be set free


  1. so brave, both of you, all of us...

  2. favorite line today is "But at the horrors of the world and its monsters". you nailed it again.

  3. Sam will read this some day when he is older, put his arms around you and deliver you a hug born of gratitude, love and understanding.

  4. This is so wise and so loving. You seem like such a great mom.

  5. I heard about that little boy on the news too. So, so horrible. I have a stepbrother that same age and it just broke my heart to think about. This is a really beautiful poem.

  6. I remember going through that as a kid... Coping with what it meant to be stolen away as a kid and why we had to be safe... Lovely as always.

  7. Hello!
    Amazing poem!

    I would just like to say that I just finished your book, how to uncage a girl! It is so beautiful! I love all the imaging and points of views. You definitely inspired me to write and finish my collection!

    Thanks for being such an amazing poet and writer!
    Love always, Mazie

  8. I hope, when the time comes, that I can talk to my own son as wisely, and sensitively, and as honest as you did Sam. This world and its monsters terrify me, but I will face anything to protect my only child. And reading about your own experience helps so much. This is beautiful and heartbreaking, and necessary.

  9. Being a parent is so hard in ways I never would have imagined.

  10. How odd. I just finished I Was a Teenage Fairy, I sort of permanently borrowed it from my best friend, I have had it 10 years and never finished it, lingering, restarting it. Just finished it and had to "check up on you," see what you are up to, and here's this blog about how we steal a piece of innocence to try to save it. I had the same heart break today with my 9 year old. I am still sad at the look he gave me. How odd...;)

  11. crying- this hits home to all of us so deeply...