My wife framed a poster decades ago,
Take time—picture of a daddy holding a kid.
So Imade time for them at baseball games,
before survival training and Saigon.
Down on both knees, I taught our babies
tickle and horsey rides, caught all three kids
with the same oiled catcher’s mitt,
then waved them away on planes. Berries and beans
sustain us, now that our children have gone—
and okra so slick why bother to chew,
just swallow. There’s work in digging our own
potatoes—never mind the worms, dirt
under the nails. It’s grace, no matter how high
the water bill, how many bushels we reap.
All that crawling around between rows
takes time, squatting like ducks hunting for bugs,
turning flab into muscle, to tighter skin
and bone. Years ago, each child turned back
and waved—memories we keep like nights
in Montana, blessings no one could earn,
like potatoes, berries, and beans.
When this boy Jesus was five years old,
he went down to a ford of the brook.
—Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of
The small boy knelt beside the water,
Sculpting birds of earth
Which flew off when he told them to scatter.
And if that’s not the truth,
Then why is the square so full of sparrows,
Living on puddles and crusts;
Singing small praises as daylight narrows,
Cleansed in summer’s dust?
Out of spring’s infinity
Birds and children start.
Yet with a word this child conferred
A span of life to art.