They cry because they’re babies, babies cry –
they’re hungry, uncomfortable, need to sleep
or sometimes for no reason you or I

however anxiously we empathise
can guess, or for no reason but to keep
us guessing night and day, they cry and cry.

They stand up, learn to walk and talk and tie
their shoelaces. You watch them cross the street
without holding hands, but sometimes I

fall over at school, half-strangled, as they fight
for one more last good-bye, and let them weep
when I am not at liberty to cry.

Their swollen soft distracted faces dry.
Mine is forgotten. Free to drag my feet
unsupervised back through the playground, I

will be late for work, but sometimes stop to spy
on them, or in a flash of childish pique
call out their names, want them to see me cry,
their fat transparent tears escape my eyes.


from Quicksand Beach, Seren, 2006