The Bad Mother

I went looking for him because,
when I looked out the window
and saw headlights curving off the street,
I thought of every news story I had ever heard
about kids being taken.
It didn’t matter that we live in a safe neighborhood.
It didn’t matter that he is big for his age.
It didn’t matter that stuff like that doesn’t happen here.

So, I zipped my coat and put my shoes on.
I thought about how I would explain
why I had not walked my son to his friend’s house.
It’s winter.
It gets dark sooner.
I am tired.
None of it felt sufficient.

I held my breath against the cold, dark, night
and did not take in air until
I saw his coat and shoes piled in the front hall
of his friend’s house.
I didn’t even knock because I knew I seemed panicked.

I walked back toward our house thankful that,
this time,
he was safe from this cruel world.
This time,
it did not swallow him whole
while I was not looking.

4 responses to “The Bad Mother

  1. This poem is very touching.. Great imagery. Wow!

  2. Every mother’s worst nightmare. And no matter how much you do to protect your children, something ‘could’ happen out there in the big wide world. Giving protection to offspring is a huge burden and, I’m sure, most mothers would agree that it remains insufficient and, because of that, a lot of mothers might consider themselves to be ‘bad’ parents.

    Thank you for your poem. The imagery was indeed powerful.

    Take care,

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