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Martha Hayes

The Kindness of Children

A parent sees them run into the house,
neglecting to help carry in their bags.

But I see an eight-year-old boy, who tenderly
takes his small sister’s cold hands in his.
He wraps his own warmth around her,
his bare skin exposed to the December air,
He will keep her warm I hear him say. 
As they continue the walk
to the park, she leans against him
with a sense of comfort and safety
I can only, as the eldest child of my family, envy.

I see this same five-year-old girl, determined
to restack the pile of books she has taken out
of a wrought iron bookcase, whose shelves
are such that every time she places one
book down, another falls, who persists
in spite of my assurance
that it is an impossible task
and not important nor necessary.
She tells me that she loves to clean,
following me into the kitchen, insistent on helping
me wash the dishes and wipe down the counters. 

And I see the youngest, a mere four
years old, loosen the grip on a cherished
princess coloring book, placing it back
on the store shelf as she agrees with her
sister that they should choose instead
a craft kit so that they can make memory boxes
for their grandmother who has just passed. 

I see the three of them abandon
their belongings as they bolt from the car
and run into the house because they are excited
and happy to be home.

Martha is a yoga teacher and community college professor. Her poetry has been published in numerous small literary journals, including Freshwater, Vermont Literary Review, Fresh Ink, Naugatuck River Review, and TYCA.