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Elise Kelley

Grade: 11

Bay Village High School

Instructor: Erin Beirne

A Mother's Musings for her Toddler with a Lighter

Poetry

A Mother's Musings for her Toddler with a Lighter

You search for the thin tube of blue, with its silver cap and red plastic lever,
always finding it next to the stone fireplace with its shiny, black prison bars.

You always find the tube containing the seed of the sunset flower,
mouth stretching upward to your freckles and stubby legs,
still containing remnants of baby fat,
bending, up down up down, from your joy.

You cannot figure the mechanics behind the tube of blue,
often rotating the toy, looking curiously at it while it is
upside down, rightside up, sideways.
Small, weak fingers play at the red lever, unable to push or move it.
Unable to see the dancing flower,
for you are too uncoordinated.

Despite my instincts, I do not panic,
rush over and rip the object away and scold and scold and scold you.
Instead, I watch carefully, making sure you will not figure out this tantalizing puzzle,
let you struggle and fail, but ultimately quench your curiosity,
before you bore of it and wander into your room
to play with the pastel bear or the striking, colorful blocks that you click and snap together.

Then, as the rotation of the earth continues on and on,
And the days and nights flow in and out like the waves following their moon,
I may notice that you will have succeeded in the puzzle.
That the little flame will flicker in front of you, shining in your round, wondrous eyes.
When this day comes, I will ignore my instincts for but a second, and gaze at you.
Your wonder, your confusion, your feelings of success, curiosity not quenched,
but expanded,
like a moss growing on a rock in the ocean,
like a campfire swallowing up the wood it is fed.
The pure joy in something that I have long since grown used to.
The little flame, a dancer and a statue, making no sense to you but intriguing you all the same.
Does it make sense to me?
Or have I simply not bothered to wonder about it anymore?

With the weight of my years ever present on my shoulders,
I will let the moment pass, and approach you.
I will gently take the lighter from your hands, let you stare at its golden glow,
let you feel the flash of warmth on your face for another second,
then the flower will dissipate, and I will explain to you why the toy is not a toy,
but a danger.
Your curiosity is not yet balanced by reason, but one day, it will be.

And when that day passes,
You will grieve for something that you were unaware that you lost,

Memory of the sunset flower fleetingly forgotten.