Today I had to take my son and my youngest daughter back after having them at my place during their spring break. I’ve been doing this kind of thing for nearly twenty years, and it never gets easier. This is how it feels.
You wave goodbye as they drive
Away, already mauling video game
Aliens and tapping their feet to
The rhythm of a song you’ve never
Heard of, forgetting their promise to
Look back before they vanish this time.
Or perhaps you sprint madly for the car,
Slam the door and clasp the seatbelt,
Reverse gear down the drive and
Rooster-tail through gravel to the nearest bar,
Leaving them to wave at your taillights
As your façade collapses in their wake.
You cannot betray their belief in
Your stoicism, your ability to take
The separation with blank aplomb.
You must remain an optimist, the
Guardian of their right to devastation.
But you can never cry.
Instead you must spout cheerful platitudes
That echo false in your throat.
They might as well be slogans
Advertising incremental hells:
“Only two weeks” and “next summer”
And “before you know it” and “soon.”
If you say it long enough,
One day you might believe yourself.