Children at Descanso Gardens
by Pauli Dutton
explain to their moms and dads
what the sun means.
Why it shines and why it goes away.
So the flowers can grow,
and we will sleep better.
Parents bend to listen.
Yes, yes, they say again and again.
They race to the duck pond,
giggle when the mallards splash,
laugh when they somersault
with webbed feet wobbling in the air,
then glide across the blue green water
like experienced boatmen showing off.
When I die, I wonder if will I return as a loved child?
Will I have a mother who listens patiently to me?
I listened to my daughter. Her every word,
her little voice, sounds of her clapping, skipping,
bouncing on our bed made my heart sing.
I sang to her and she sang to me.
We still sing like children unashamed.
If I sang my poems would they sing around the earth?
If I laughed my poems would they make bellies giggle
across the world? Can I live as a child now?
Laugh with the dishes, sing with the broom,
and dance with the laundry?
Sundays my daughter skypes from Scotland.
I watch her six-year-old and four-year-old boys
run about the house in their superhero capes,
fall, laughing into their Lego houses,
roar their Hot Wheels and Thomas trains,
wear tortillas on their faces. The baby yawns,
and I know there is nothing more remarkable,
phenomenal, more luscious than this.
Except maybe hugging,
Will I ever get to hug them again?
* * * * *
Pauli Dutton has been published in Verse Virtual, Altadena Poetry Review, Spectrum, Skylark, Mudpuppy, Imaginary Landscapes, and elsewhere. She was a librarian for forty years, where she founded, coordinated and led a public reading series from 2003 through 2014. She served on the Selection Committees for The Altadena Literary Review 2020 and the Altadena Poetry Review from 2015 - 2019. She co-edited the 2017 and 2018 editions. Pauli holds an MLS from University of Southern California.