Poem of the Week, by Todd Dillard

Three spots open in our last Zoom workshop of the fall, The Gift of Words, next Saturday, November 20. I’d love to see you there. Check the class out here.

Last week I was walking along a narrow channel between Lake of the Isles and Lake Bde Maka Ska when I came upon a tiny child clinging with both arms extended to the other side of the iron fence. He leaned out over the dark, freezing water, laughing as his father crept toward him, smiling the terrified-parent frozen grin I could feel on my own face. Neither of us wanted to scare the child. Neither of us wanted the child to fall.

A friend without children once told me how terrifying it was for her to hold a baby. How could it NOT be terrifying, was my response. They’re so dinky! Their heads aren’t even all the way closed up, for Godsakes! The only thing they have going for them in the way of survival is their loudness and their occasional cuteness.

Babies themselves, though, don’t know how helpless they are. I wish I still had that fearlessness. To be so tiny, and not to know it or think about it, but just hurl yourself headlong at the world.

Edna, by Todd Dillard

My daughter is bored so I tell her silverfish
are neither silver nor a fish, but a spoon-dull insect
that loves kitchens bathrooms the mouths of children.
Silverfish! Silverfish! she squeals, the word
peeling from her lips and crawling down her legs.
She watches me knead the day’s dough
and asks if Kleenex are used to clean necks.
The TV says a crane collapsed off 34th and
she wants to know if it’s because the crane was thirsty.
Some afternoons we visit the neighborhood pool and
even though she can barely swim my daughter isn’t afraid.
She’s so unafraid it makes me afraid. She loves it
when I pick her up and throw her as far away as possible.
She loves to paddle back and scream Again! Again!
But she loves it most when I swim away as fast as I can,
when my back becomes a shore she’s trying to reach.
My daughter’s named the pool Edna. Sometimes
Edna helps her reach me. When it’s time to go
my daughter says “See you soon, Edna.”
Every day I am terrified in new ways.

For more information about Todd Dillard, please check out his website.
Words by Winter: my podcast

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