At Sixteen Months: Brown & Gold

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.

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