A Mother’s Love, 2021

You master crawling
 a spark of rushing energy
 I shut doors in your path
 as you crumble beneath me
 “My job is to keep you safe, my love”
 I whisper, and turn you back
 “I must keep you safe” I explain
 as I pull your small body down
 from the heights of the couch 
 hold your squirming hand at the ocean’s edge
 remove sharp scissors from your reach
 and catch you at the curb
 You climb ever higher
 into the canopy of trees
 you do not look back
 I steady myself below
 You delight in smashing rocks
 I buy you safety goggles
 “Safe” I say, also loving
 the excuse to caress your face
 “Keep you safe” I explain
 as I clutch you to me
 in the crowd at the airport
 once more we fly to see your grandparents
 Decades ago, I did not look back 
 and I did not foresee the price
 “Safe” I tell you
 as you shove against your car seat
 in a line of cars stretching to eternity
 in the SUV I bought to protect you
 when everyone warned my tiny
 fuel-efficient car was not enough 
 It is my most important job
 I stop you from touching the river
 which has bloomed with algae
 in the mega-drought
 It is my most important job
 I adjust your N95
 as we stumble from home to classroom
 in smoke as thick as night
 My most important job
 to keep you safe, I strap on your helmet
 made of plastic that will haunt
 the oceans of your lifetime
 brought by barge and truck 
 that have poisoned your tomorrow
 At COP 26 they say
 The people most affected by climate change
 are no longer some imagined future generation
 but young people alive today
 Holding you as you sleep
 my tears dampen your hair
 It is my most important job
 to keep you safe 


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