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