i don’t want to be this parent
but sometimes the anger boils up
and overflows, spewing ash
that blocks my love for you

it’s still there (the love), hot
magma in the depths of my
hollowed out mountain, but
it’s a slow and heavy river.

you are asleep by the time
the ash settles, gray streaks
of its tiny particles on your cheeks,
and i will not wake you.

the clouds are slow and heavy at dawn,
mimicking my magma as you wake
and i take you into the hollow,
wrapping you in the warmth of my love.

What He Does

What he does if you need to know
(really? it’s been five years)
is wake up one morning girl
and two obstinately not-morning girls
arguing with them to
go to the bathroom, get dressed,
eat breakfast, brush teeth,
and get out the door
before most people have left for work.

Alone, because I have usually
left already to enjoy a bike ride to school
(something he allows me to do
every day if I want, without question)
and even if they don’t want to do
any of it, with his patient words,
his no-nonsense attitude,
he convinces them to obey.

What next? You’d be amazed.
Takes Mythili back and forth
to preschool, setting timers for
snack and show-and-tell reminders,
grocery shopping with Riona in tow,
plans a menu that is healthy
(and that they’ll all eat, and that
we can afford), cooks and does dishes,
sets out my morning coffee and oatmeal,
cleans the house top to bottom every Friday,
(have you ever seen Dad use a vacuum?)
budgets and pays all our bills,
takes the girls to the park,
the zoo, the museum,
sets up play dates
and manages homework.

All without one critical word,
with the sensitive nurturing
every child needs and deserves,
all so that our evenings are calm,
relaxed, child-filled (not errand-filled),
so that we have a home, not a house.

What does he do, you ask?
Have you not seen our spotless home,
tasted our delectable dinners,
thrived on his technological advice,
and witnessed firsthand those
small arms reaching out for Daddy?

Let me apologize.
Perhaps you have not been blinded by love,
or perhaps in your narrow world of
work, work, work,
you have forgotten (or never knew)
what a happy family,
a perfect husband,
looks like.