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Passing on Pain

A poem

Published on:
June 10, 2020
Read time:
1 min.
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Tired,
Stressed,
Fighting a cold,
Hormonal,
Lonely.

I made a poor decision.
But I wanted to pick up
Another book
At the downtown library.

You two were tired, too.
It was the end of the day.
You, my son, whined about
Not finding “thick enough” books.
When you whine, I forget
Your age, your exhaustion,
Your own bag-of-feelings.
And I just think you’re entitled.

We lug our barely “thick enough” books
To the computerized check-out.
You two start running around.
My son, in your careless strength,
You throw down your sister
Who had clung to you in silliness.
Her head hits hard floor-
She looks a bit shocked, then
Cries.

I turn my eyes as intense
As they look.
I set my jaw; I spit out
I’m so angry at you.

You start to whine some more
I’m trying to drag heavy
Animal encyclopedias,
A crying, rattled girl
And can’t do it.

I need you to carry your books
So I growl
Take your STUPID books.
On the sidewalk, walking to the car,
I cause your tender heart
Much pain.

Your cry, as I’ve come to know it
Is one of truly hurt feelings-
A severing of trust
I have done what I hate:
Pushed you more into yourself.
Broke a link between our
Two dear hearts.

We do this. 
I am not the worst mother in the world.
We pass on pain.
I do not think perfect virtue
Can be attained in this life,
But I really hate that
I hurt you.

I can’t do it over
But if I would
I would try to take a
Deep breath and say,
Son, I know you didn’t
Mean to hurt her.
And I need some help
Carrying your books.
You’ve got some good ones. 

Joy Moore
Joy Moore is a stay-at-home mom who reads, writes, and does not do arithmetic. She is married to a fellow Nebraskan, and together, they have lived in seven states in thirteen years of marriage, collected some degrees, and brought forth two rambunctious children. Joy longs for the day when she can keep an address for more than a couple of years, but she treasures the people and the stories she has accumulated along the way.


Cover Image by Andre Ouellet 

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