Reading the Books Our Children Have Written
They come into this room while the quail are crying to huddle up,
the canyon winds just beginning. They pass my big brown desk,
their faces damp and glistening like the first peaches washed,
and offer themselves to be kissed. I am their father still.
I kiss them, I say See you tomorrow! Their light steps fade
down the stairs, what they are saying like the far stars
shrill, hard to understand. They are saying their father
writes a book and they are in it, for they are his children.
Then they lie in their beds waiting for sleep, sometimes singing.
Later I get up and go down in darkness and find the hour they played
before they were scrubbed, before they brought me those faces.
There on the floor I find the stapled pages, , the strange mild
countenances of animals no one has ever seen, the tall dark man
who writes an endless story of birds homeless in the night. They have
numbered every page, they have named each colorful wing.
They have done all this to surprise me, surprising themselves.
On the last lined yellow page, one has written This is a poem.
Under this the other has answered. See tomorrow.
Dave Smith, from The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry