Poet Commentaries

Welts and Whelps

Oh this is so very cool.  A positive and hopeful side of parenting and empathy.  How we are just never that smart or that cool and never could be.  

Today I get to start with a poem I made while watching my youngest walk home at night.  The way people walk intrigues me and one night while on my porch I witnessed this woman walking up the hill.  She was quite far away when I noticed her and, to my embarrassment, it was not until she got close that I recognized her.  I truly was impressed at her strength but there was no way I could identify it or brag about how I helped to bring it about.


My Walker


The leaf rolled beside her,
unshod and long past supple.
It chattered along with clicked skips
and a breezy gait;
finally matching her pace.

It was the leaf’s monologue
that drew my eye to her.
She was stealth.
There was no spring in her step;
no season at all.
No drooped fall shoulders
or swagger of spring.
Nothing sultry.

It was not the leaf,
the push of traffic,
or pulse of street lights
that paced her
though they all kept up.

I looked long
pondering tuned instruments,
and pebbles in shoes.
I wanted to learn her tune.
To hear the way
waves lapped her core.
To hear the beat
of this solo drummer
and feel the pull of the oars
through her sinew.
I wanted to watch her prow
crest and fall
generating this wake
that pulled along that leaf.

Her father should be proud
and so I beamed.

In previous writes I talk of empathy and forgiveness.  I tried to put them in perspective and encourage people to work at quantifying them and we should.  The trouble is empathy is a strange animal.  People need , shame, hardship and heartache and in the end these all work at making our walk unique and strong.  These are necessary seasons. Some kids need to be “knocked down a notch or two”  and every good parent knows this is not their job; they just need to be there as it happens.

If you are objectively studying empathy and what a particular child needs you should in your observations recognize that you do not really know.  There are tough lessons that are not taught by parents.  They are best handled by siblings and peers.  They are not always pretty.  A good parent somehow helps children through it.  

In the story below the man in question missed a lesson.  There is no way I could tell you what that lesson was, whether it was a parent who missed the boat or if he was sick on the day the lesson was taught on the school ground.  I do know that.  Just like my daughter’s walk showed ….something…this man’s etiquette showed …something.  


Welts and Whelps

the crack of the whip
is nothing more than
soft and lazy leather
coming to whit’s end,

It was an etiquette breach by a buffoon that set her off.  She was livid, her popper snaked and flailed in the air of the truck such that I winced.  “You are not gonna snap at me are you?”  

The truth is this guy has done it to me too.  Just as I was exiting the donut shop he tried to barge in.  The only way that was gonna work was if I scrunched up against the door and gave in.  Nope.  I just stood there and as he took a step he realized I was not moving.  He then stepped back and held the door as he was supposed to.  My wife’s reaction was to give way and be roughly brushed by him as he went through.

I laughed.  “Do you not know how to lock and stand firm, to become a wall?  Have you not watched me teach my daughter and granddaughter how to arm wrestle and whip towels?  You have to hold your ground!”  

So I taught her but I also warned her.  You see, because you have given in twice before, this was gonna be messy.  He would expect soft and pliable and will only learn when he meets hard and unmovable.  She was morally neither allowed to check him nor give in and cower.

She should feel two things if done properly.  Laughing until the tears came and guilt at the results.  I have to tell you that she experienced both.  “The look in his eye was priceless as he bounced off me into the door. I then just calmly walked past.”  

a towel wet and wound
whelps and welts
until they get it right

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