Red Stuff

Down by the river, my little son

Is snapping twigs and tossing them

To see the runoff carry them away.

I watch until my mind goes wandering.

 

“What’s that red stuff?” I hear him say.

I look down, absently, to see

His white star-fingers staining red

With a thing he has no word for.

 

He is not afraid to touch and taste it.

The pain has not yet arrived.

But I see the moment when it does

And I watch it change his face.

 

When tears are dried and wound is bound

I teach him the word for it –

But the meaning of the word is half

The meaning of the world

 

And I won’t teach him that today.


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