Published on Academy of American Poets (

Will You?

When, at the end, the children wanted 
to add glitter to their valentines, I said no. 

I said nope, no, no glitter, and then, 
when they started to fuss, I found myself 

saying something my brother’s football coach 
used to bark from the sidelines when one 

of his players showed signs of being 
human: oh come on now, suck it up. 

That’s what I said to my children. 
Suck what up? my daughter asked, 

and, because she is so young, I told her 
I didn’t know and never mind, and she took 

that for an answer. My children are so young 
when I turn off the radio as the news turns 

to counting the dead or naming the act, 
they aren’t even suspicious. My children 

are so young they cannot imagine a world 
like the one they live in. Their God is still 

a real God, a whole God, a God made wholly 
of actions. And I think they think I work 

for that God. And I know they will someday soon 
see everything and they will know about 

everything and they will no longer take 
never mind for an answer. The valentines 

would’ve been better with glitter, and my son 
hurt himself on an envelope, and then, much 

later, when we were eating dinner, my daughter 
realized she’d forgotten one of the three 

Henrys in her class. How can there be three Henrys 
in one class? I said, and she said, Because there are. 

And so, before bed we took everything out 
again—paper and pens and stamps and scissors—

and she sat at the table with her freshly washed hair 
parted smartly down the middle and wrote 

WILL YOU BE MINE, HENRY T.? and she did it 
so carefully, I could hardly stand to watch.


Copyright © 2019 by Carrie Fountain. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 13, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Once I believed to remain true to my art I had to keep the world away. I had to cloister. I remained pure. Of what? Who knows. My feeling of myself as an artist has changed. To remain true to my art, I try to be awake in the world. I try to succumb to it—the glitter, the Henrys, the rude things I find coming out of my mouth—and I try to make something of it. I'm hardly ever alone. As you hear in the recording: my cat came in and meowed. I was going to redo it, but no. I'm no longer interested in purity. That's part of my art. It stays.”
—Carrie Fountain


Carrie Fountain

Carrie Fountain is the author Instant Winner (Penguin Books, 2014) and Burn Lake (Penguin Books, 2010), selected for the National Poetry Series.

Date Published: 2019-03-13

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