It’s a living. But I often wonder
what I’m teaching them.
The children run at me with sticks,
their voices shrill, mouths set with fierce determination.
Before the first blow I hold my breath
and shift my paper eyes upward to the leaves and the sky.
I hang on the limb, a heavy fruit,
while the mothers stand around encouraging them to hit me harder.
The birthday cake is in the background,
but first, the slaughter.
I love the shy kids, the gentle ones who give me a tap, a pat.
They are more interested in the butterfly on the rose bush.
It’s a living, but I often wonder
if I’m teaching them
that aggression wins, and that you have to whack the hell out of life
before you get to the sweetness.
Published in Tower Journal, Spring 2015