Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sorry Dollars

He's flint and bonfire, his tongue a scythe leaving ashes where it cuts. If I could I'd send him into the fields to roam and work, his capable hands. If you read aloud to him, the words settle deep and when he speaks of them and it, he is an older, wiser person than I, and if written down, a foreign language, gobbledygook. I drive down the alley to pick him up from school, shattered windows, a dumpster, and brace my hands on the steering wheel, uncertain whether a smile will climb into the car or a heavy backpack, bursting at the seams with the weight of years and unwanted history.

Yesterday, his eyes twinkled and he handed me a play check written out to me for 1,000,000,000,000 dollars. Pay to the order of Elizabeth Aquino, it said. I am sorry dollars. His signature an O and a swoop and a flourish. I wish that I could give him fields instead of the classroom, ease instead of angst.

Back from the Fields

Until nightfall my son ran in the fields,
looking for God knows what.
Flowers, perhaps. Odd birds on the wing.
Something to fill an empty spot.
Maybe a luminous angel
or a country girl with a secret dark.
He came back empty-handed,
or so I thought.

Now I find them:
thistles, goatheads,
the barbed weeds
all those with hooks or horns
the snaggle-toothed, the grinning ones
those wearing lantern jaws,
old ones in beards, leapers
in silk leggings, the multiple
pocked moons and spiny satellites, all those
with juices and saps
like the fingers of thieves
nation after nation of grasses
that dig in, that burrow, that hug winds
and grab handholds
in whatever lean place.

It's been a good day.

Peter Everwine


  1. Beautifully said. I stand in front of a classroom of Olivers and think the same thoughts.

  2. that boy is something else. what a creative mind, a loving heart. i teared up at his check. he must have been terribly sorry for something. I hope with all my might that he can stay in touch with his tender heart as he grows up!

  3. It's all going to be fine. And lovely. I swear. That boy.

  4. Elizabeth, my son was/is such a student. The words on the page danced and wouldn't arrange themselves in an orderly march before his eyes but tell him the thing, teach it to him by speech and it goes in deep and makes a home. Forever. it will be okay, I promise. That Oliver is gifted in ways that heavy backpacks cannot measure. Only life can. Hugs.

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  6. That O is an old soul with a big heart. School is harder on some than others. Hang in there, mom and boy. x0 N2

  7. I also wanted to say, my god, the writing of this. stunning poetry.

  8. There is something so poignant about having a child that feels with such depth. It is hard to feel things with them, try to match them flutter for heartbeat, but I have to believe that these things are gifts that will serve the world in greater ways than I can ever know.

  9. Sounds like a pretty wonderful apology. I think I owe my mom about 10 bazillion of those sorry dollars.

  10. Oh, and yes, as Angella said -- terrific poem! I don't know Peter Everwine. But I like it.

  11. Elizabeth, you are so, so amazing. Sometimes I just don't know how you assemble these beautiful words the way you do.

  12. I love so many things about this...the poem, the images, and his t-shirt!

  13. You do mesmerize me. I wish we could send all the children out to the fields, as I hear some schools do in Norway, and let them live truer lives. But you know they say it is the dawn of those like Oliver, that the time is coming for the intuitives to shine. So they say.

    (I'm thinking of Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind", Martha Beck's latest book, and even that book about the power of introverts. One can hope.)

    And I agree with Kario completely.

  14. He will overcome these odds .... and the powers that be will still be muddling through their mediocre lives



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