Poem of the Week, by Alison McGhee

Whether you’re a parent or not, everyone was once someone’s child. This one goes out to all of you. 



     – Alison McGhee

The newspaper reports that at twilight tonight
Venus and Jupiter will conjoin
in the southwestern sky,
a fist and a half above the horizon.
They won’t come together again for seventeen years.
What the article does not say is that Mercury, the
dark planet, will also be on hand.
He’ll hover low, nearly invisible in a darkened sky.
I stare out the kitchen window toward the sunset.

Seventeen years from now, where
will I be?
Mercury, Roman god of commerce and luck,
let me propose a trade:
Auburn hair, muscles that don’t ache, and a seven-minute mile.
Here’s what I’ll give you in return:
My recipe for Brazilian seafood stew, a talent for
French-braiding, an excellent sense of smell and
the memory of having once kissed Sam W.

Then I see my girl across the room.
She stands on a stool at the sink,
washing her toy dishes and
swaying to a whispered song,
her dark curls a nimbus in the lamplight.
The planets are coming together now.
Minute by minute the time draws nigh for me to watch.
Minute by minute my child wipes dry her red
plastic knife, her miniature blue bowls.

Mercury, here’s another offer, a real one this time:
Let her be.
You can have it all in return,
the salty stew, the braids, the excellent sense of smell
and the softness of Sam’s mouth on mine.
And my life. That too.
All of it I give for this child, that seventeen years hence
she will stand in a distant kitchen, washing dishes
I cannot see, humming a tune I cannot hear.



  1. Barbara Sniw · May 11, 2019

    How well I remember when the Strib ran the poem. Loved it then and now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · May 11, 2019

      I had forgotten all about that! Miss you.


  2. Gabrielle McGhee · May 11, 2019

    I loved it years ago, and love it more now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. alisonmcghee · May 11, 2019



  4. Nicole Kronzer · May 11, 2019

    Crying. This is beautiful, Alison.


    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · May 11, 2019

      Thank you, dear Nicole. xo


  5. April Halprin Wayland · May 11, 2019

    Your generosity, as ever, spills out of this poem to the world.


  6. alisonmcghee · May 11, 2019



  7. Maggie · May 12, 2019

    Wow! Very moving. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · May 12, 2019

      I’m glad it spoke to you. XO


  8. Denise Herman · May 13, 2019

    I read this poem to my three daughters – each of them that little girl for me – at our mother’s day brunch. We all cried. 🙂 Thank you, Alison.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · May 13, 2019

      Aw. . . give those girls of yours a hug for me. And one for you, too. xo


  9. Birgitt · May 13, 2019

    In my very first mail to you, I referred to that poem and told you how much I loved it. Centuries ago, it seems – and still as fresh and as true as then. Thank you, Alison.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s