On Choice

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On Choice

Do I teach her to read?
Or wipe her bottom properly?
Use a tissue and throw it away,
instead of the shirttail,
a nearby sleeve,
of the startled person next to her?
Spend our afternoons identifying the value,
of coins, denominations of small bills?
How do I convince
her to keep the twist of hair
from being ever lodged in the corner of her cracked lips,
teeth nibbling on the knotted ends?
Fingers that have dug down
in the dirt,
chasing the worm,
still move directly
Into eyes.
How much time
on perfecting pronouns
versus general hygiene,
a command of basic decorum?

Seventeen years
littered with sticker star charts,
incentives,
behavior mod regimes,
repetition,
coaching,
pleading,
consequences,
have failed to alter this path.

You prefer it sanitized.
All of it.
To see the special child
in the most beatific of lights.
Simple and sweet.
Biscuit and jam.
Beaming parents, accepting,
their wise, tolerant smiles,
a gaze like an ocean at sunset.

How much energy
used to powder and buff,
make our life more palatable,
for those peering in?

The laundry needs washing
just as it is,
fecal smeared and smelling.

Still,
each morning,
inexplicably,
we start sparkling,
fresh,

as if there is
but one choice.

Julie Ayers
June 2013

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