Henry Writes a Theme About Nature

Nature can be anything.
A leaf twirling in the sun or
the rock I once kicked
all the way down the alley
on my way to school one day.

I think nature is swell.

I wish I had more to say about it,
but sometimes it’s hard to write about
a thing that can be anything.

I hope you will understand.


Sharon Thinks About Love

It’s not that I’m anti-love,

I just think there should be
other ways to organize things
like lives or every little hair
on someone else’s head.

But I digress, don’t I?
I never said I was against


only that sense of ownership,
that impulse to say

every little hair on your head
belongs to me

I feel it,
tingling in my own open hand,
even now.


Henry Remembers His Mother

The year that I was six and I woke up
on St. Patrick’s Day and said to you
“Toe of the morning!” because I was
new to reading, had filed away
a greeting card or a decorative sign
or something in my mind as a way
to celebrate this day with you,
you didn’t laugh at me.

The year that I turned eight,
you let me write a message
on each party invitation.

Thank you for both of those things.
You were tops—or, Mother, you were toes.


Ralph Talks to His Grandson About Health

Listen, they’ll tell you
good health is everything,
but some things are better.
I have lived in rivers of egg yolk,
once drank a whole pan of bacon grease
on a dare, one Sunday morning in my
long underwear, when I was about your age
and all of us young fellows knew
we would die sooner or later anyway,
and whether “later” or “sooner”
didn’t seem as big a deal as it does now
with minds clouded by age
and that feeble intention to have
more time and more and more and more,
and to die as an old, dry twig
rather than a blade of grass, still green.


Sharon Searches for Ralph

For the first time ever,
I can’t locate you in space—
by which I mean, I send out
the usual signal from my mind
and you don’t answer.

It used to be a ping
that I could feel between
my eyes, or sometimes
my shoulder blades,
my wings

if you would rather.
I don’t know what it means
not to hear from you—or,
I guess, feel from you—now.
It’s something like when

I went away to college,
would call you from a payphone,
sometimes. Long distance, collect,
and sometimes your mother,
feeling charitable, would accept

my call, pass me to you without
a word—a silent blessing—
but sometimes she wouldn’t
and there I would be,
on a Saturday night:



Helen Thinks About Frank

No, now I remember—the special
was meatloaf and buttered peas.
There must have been a potato, surely,
but I remember the peas, how we
chased them with our forks and one
rolled under the counter and we
laughed and laughed. You took my
hand, then, in both of yours, said how
sweet it was, and small, and dear.

A lie—

by then, Father had died and my hands were
crabbed by sewing and laundering. You can’t
wear thimbles on each of your fingers, or
gloves every minute of every long day.
Some things can’t be prevented, protected,


of all the lies anyone ever told me,
I always loved yours best.


Henry Invites Susan

This little buckaroo’s turning 8!
Come to the party—don’t be LATE!

Henry Thompson
5428 Cedarwood Lane
Saturday, November 7, 2:00-4:00 p.m.


Susan I am sorry for everything
breaking your crayons and eating
all your paste at librarry time
I hope you will come to my party
and if you do that will be keen
we will have hot dogs and cake



Susan to Her Neighbor, Marge

I told you I was ready.
I waited in the garage
with the kitten in a towel.

You never came.

I saw an ax on a peg on the wall but couldn’t use it.
The kitten shivered, and it opened one eye.

It crawled out of the towel,
up to my neck, under my chin.
I decided I wasn’t ready.

It’s a good thing you never came.


A Letter from Sally

Dear Frank,

Gosh it seems ages since you left me
at the bus station, saying, Good luck with
everything you want to do in life.

Frank I was a fool
for you and am a fool
without you

but I’ve learned something:
There’s no need for all this thunder
in our heads, between us

if you don’t want me to write,
I won’t, or else I will, sometimes
but only scribbles, not for pay

not for anything as important as
money for our little house, our nest
the little baby birdies we talked about

having. Frank, now I know and I will try
if you will meet me next Saturday at 2:15
at the station, I will give you my briefcase

of scripts, poems, stories
you can lock it, Frank, and bury

the key