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 tenderlytakes 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 walkto the park, she leans against himwith a sense of comfort and safetyI can only, as the eldest child of my family, envy.
I see this same five-year-old girl, determinedto restack the pile of books she has taken outof a wrought iron bookcase, whose shelvesare such that every time she places onebook down, another falls, who persistsin spite of my assurancethat it is an impossible taskand not important nor necessary.She tells me that she loves to clean,following me into the kitchen, insistent on helpingme wash the dishes and wipe down the counters.
And I see the youngest, a mere fouryears old, loosen the grip on a cherishedprincess coloring book, placing it backon the store shelf as she agrees with hersister that they should choose insteada craft kit so that they can make memory boxesfor their grandmother who has just passed.
I see the three of them abandontheir belongings as they bolt from the carand run into the house because they are excitedand 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.