THE PLEASANTEST THING
He can sing the last word of every line—
the swing song I sang to his father,
that my mother sang to me.
In his small world, the garden
is still green and the wideness
he sees is safe. “Turn up your toes,”
I tell him. And I push him
on the orange soles of his shoes
and he laughs. Later, we’ll have
lunch, and maybe he’ll take a nap.
I can protect him from bees,
from sunburn, from sharp knives,
from tumbling down the cellar stairs.
Not from overturning boats,
from hunger and guns. Pushing
the swing, singing away,
I think about grandmothers
lifting children above the waves,
breaking the last bread,
huddling behind the last wall.
Their strength, their tears.
What can they do
but hold tight and die too.
There is no fiercer love.