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 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
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/will-you