by Kathleen Aguero
My grandson plucks a marigold
poking through a neighbor’s white fence,
crushes it between his fingers
while I try to remember
if it’s poisonous. Three days later
he’s alive, so I cross the marigold
off my list of potentially lethal flora
toddlers might put in their mouths.
So far, he has not harmed himself
by falling while carrying a stick
and poking out his eye, something
my mother assured me would happen
if I ever ran with a stick in my hand.
Though he tugs hard at the baby gate,
he has not pulled it down. Though he has banged
on the window, he has not shattered it,
cut himself, or fallen to the pavement
two stories below. His skin has not
turned from brown to blue
during a tantrum, and he has grabbed
the dog’s whiskers without being bitten.
He bulldozes his way. He prods
and he pushes. He tries to put the whole
of the dangerous world in his mouth
while I follow ready to snatch
the worst away. When tired,
he wobbles, he falls, he cries,
but the next day he’s walking again.
Golden marigold petals stain his brown hand
as he carries his stick. So far
no one thinks it’s a gun.
“At Sixteen Months: Brown and Gold” originally appeared in Kathleen Aguero’s sixth book, World Happiness Index (Tiger Bark Press). She also has co-edited three volumes of multi-cultural literature for the University of Georgia Press. She teaches in the Solstice low-residency M.F.A. program and in Changing Lives through Literature, an alternative sentencing program, and is a consulting poetry editor at Kenyon Review.