Once, maybe ten years ago, I was lugging a heavy bag of groceries home from the store. I turned the corner on my block to see a bunch of high school boys at the other end walking toward me with that easy slouchy not-in-a-hurry grace of teenagers. One of them was tall and rangy and there was something about the way he walked that I admired and I looked at him and thought, geeze, he would be just the type I would’ve had a crush on in high school, the type who never would have noticed me. As we got closer he raised his hand and said, “Hey Mom,” and I realized it was my son. Not sure why this poem makes me think of that day, that wonder and confusion and almost embarrassment, but it does.
– Jill Bialosky
There was the hour
when raging with fever
they thrashed. The hour
when they called out in fright.
The hour when they fell asleep
against our bodies, the hour
when without us they might die.
The hour before school
and the hour after.
The hour when we buttered their toast
and made them meals
from the four important food groups—
what else could we do to insure they’d get strong and grow?
There was the hour where we were the spectators
at a recital, baseball game,
when they debuted in the school play.
There was the silent hour in the car
when they were angry. The hour
when they broke curfew. The hour
when we waited for the turn of the lock
knowing they were safe and we could finally
close our eyes and sleep. The hour
when they were hurt
or betrayed and there was nothing we could do
to ease the pain.
There was the hour
when we stood by their bedsides with ginger-ale
or juice until the fever broke. The hour
when we lost our temper and the hour
we were filled with regret. The hour
when we slapped their cheeks and held
our hand in wonder.
The hour when we wished for more.
The hour when their tall and strong bodies,
their newly formed curves and angles in their faces
and Adam’s apple surprised us—
who had they become?
Hours when we waited and waited.
When we rushed home from the office
or sat in their teacher’s classroom
awaiting the report of where they stumbled
and where they excelled, the hours
when they were without us, the precious hour
we did not want to lose each year
even if it meant another hour of daylight.
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