The Wisdom of Others
Concerning Children

"A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child."

~~ Longfellow (1857)

"In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice."

~~ Charles Dickens (1860-61)

"The Twelve Year Victimization of Violet"

My relationship with Violet
is the longest Iíve managed to sustain.
On those mornings Iím cognizant enough
to notice her, I am mortified by her appearance.

I take her to the sink, wash her face,
feed her, prune the leaves that have turned
more toasted and transparent than most
of the onionskin sheets in the books
on my library shelves. She looks
like an over-sheared sheep,
set on fire and then stamped out.

I berate her for dying, tell her
I watered her just yesterday
(or was that last week? Last month?
I canít remember).

Ask how she finagled her way
inside my house in the first place,
before I realize it was me
who bought her and brought her home.

Ridicule her name because she is some sort
of philodendron, not a violet at all.
Violet is a name I thought was pretty once
when I was fresh and foolish.

Remind her that if she is uncomfortable here,
she is free to go; forget the fact that she
is rooted Ė have thrown her in the garbage
many times, only to retrieve her.

I abuse, violate, neglect,
and castigate her;
yet like a Maya Angelou poem,
she proclaims, ďStill I Rise
I thank god for her chutzpah;
thank him even more
that she is not a human child.

© 2000 MJM

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