Away from the Graveyard

Children love easily.
When they are afraid,
they grab your hand
even if you just met
even if you feel unqualified…
You have never really held a child’s hand before
because your mind
for so long
thought you were the child.
But here in the graveyard,
here near the grave of her grandmother,
you know you are not the child.
You understand the dead will not attack you,
and that if they did,
if indeed a skeletal army arose,
their lack of muscles wouldn’t put up much of a fight.
And so your hand stays loose,
but firm,
while her hand squeezes against your knuckles
like they are holding on to the edge of a cliff.

The stakes are high for children.
So much hasn’t happened yet,
there is so much they haven’t seen.

And that is why they are afraid:
Their world consists of mostly unknown…
that is also why they are so trusting.

They haven’t been betrayed—
Oh, perhaps by their sister at a tea party, sure,
but no one has stopped calling them out of the blue,
they haven’t had a birthday where everyone forgot,
they haven’t lost anyone who they can remember.
And so understand that
not only
are you holding a child’s hand
but you are holding their conception of how love works:
It happens quickly,
at the first grievance,
and heals
but five minutes later.
Children remind us that we once loved with such ease.
They drag us away from the graveyard,
away from the harsh late-fall breeze,
and into the warmth of a cozy car.

On the ride home
she rests her head on your shoulder,
and falls asleep.