by Ian Cooke Tapia
It is said; they come during the day,
While we turn around, while we look away
and leave the children of our heart,
for a moment, alone in their world of play.
They’ve come at night, it is said,
fingers carrying gifts, lips singing lullabies,
in the small hours after our forehead kisses, our hugs and pats in the head,
and our stories of princess and caterpillars have been read.
We know of them in passing, in eager stories told
Between mouthfuls of eggs, and sips of juice. Breakfast is served,
while our children tales will tell, About secret journeys with the pretty ladies.
Our hearts hammer, hammer, hammer – we’ll hear our fears unfold.
We wave those stories way. Children be children!
In our ignorance we attempt wisdom, not for them but for our peace of mind.
Would you let yourself believe such tales? Believe that you have no power
To protect your blood, your love, from devious brethren.
So we lie to them. We lie. We lie.
Dismiss their adventures, never answer curious questions
Wrap thyself in safe bliss. They do not exist – my child is safe!
It will go away. Those are not real. The nightmare we defy!
The lies we’ve come to believe, no matter what.
The children kept asking question, some not their own
Someone is whispering in their ear at night.
Stop! No more questions! Grounded you are, brat!
Our mistake we didn’t see. Fear, ignorance the poison
It wasn’t them. It wasn’t even the monsters.
It was us. It was our distrust of our children’s worlds
We were noisome.
Driven away our children kept a secret,
A gift, from their midnight visitors
The Pretty Ladies, the nice ladies
Are they a threat?
Oh, my children! Given a gift so long ago,
The stories faded away. But the poison had been drunk.
In our gratitude for breakfast without stories of secret journeys,
We did not see what we had done. Planted something that would darkly grow.
That gift, given to our children in dreams
Helped them be happy, helped them be great and bliss find
So wonderful it was. What a blessing!
But it has taken away from their eyes the gleam.
Pretty ladies, nice ladies! Oh, we besiege you.
Take our mistakes away; remove the poison we fed them.
Please, please, please,
Give our children back. And our lives too.
Where are my children now?
Who amongst you, faceless and smiling
Who amongst you, clones of one another
is the child I birthed with sweat on my brow?