"Precious Moments": A Prose Poem

I

When you don't have children, I suppose you find other living things to father: the puppy who grows so fast you want to have him tested for PEDs; the squirrels and the birds fighting for seed at the feeder in front of the kitchen window; the bonsai and the orchids that never quite look as good as when you bought them at the county fair, or at the Whole Foods across town; the Japanese maple you found on clearance at the garden center and carried home in hopes of seeing its red bark in winter, its rust-colored leaves in fall; the New Guinea impatiens, the begonias, the oak leaf hydrangea delivered in a box packed with styrofoam and a money-back guarantee.

Illustration by Charlie Shifflett

Illustration by Charlie Shifflett

II

If children do come, you will be ready, as ready as any fledgling writer might who has been scripting precious moments for imaginary children in his head: the boy blinking away the puppy's licks; the girl showing her drawing of a cardinal as it cracks a sunflower seed in its yellow beak; the boy mistaking the bonsai for a stalk of broccoli; the girl wrinkling her nose at the smelly grocery store orchid; the boy shaking the tree to loose the season's last red leaf, then waiting, hands open, for its seesaw fall; the girl's self-sure hand fashioning earrings made from paperclips and begonia blossoms.

 

III

If children don't come, you will have lines like these, marooned in cyberspace, and recycled in stories about lives not lived.