The First Time

The first time
I saw my own eyes
staring out from
behind your sweet face,
a mirror of self-love
unencumbered by years
of doubt, sweat, tears.

That first time,
the only time
I saw you
before she took
you away
to a better life.

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

Dedicated to all the mothers 
who had to give up their children.

Measuring Love

Fat, white flakes cover rooftops, fence lines
Rain upon sidewalks and parked cars
Plant themselves in mountains of cloud-like splendor
Snow painting a merry Christmas Day

Bright sky at midnight, enough reflection to guide Santa
And his reindeer to our home where children sleep
As grandmother lies eyes open and in wait
For laughter and expectation to fill the morning light

Check the empty plate for cookie crumbs
And leftover drops of milk, evidence of parental love
While children confirm today is the day, finally
Yes, dear Alex, Christmas has arrived

Presents bear his name, a word he can spell at three
His sister’s name, too, three letters he reads aloud
On a tag that hangs from a golden package
Wrapped with silver twine and sparkly stars

Help Zoe open her gifts, dear boy, you know how
She yet too young to rip paper and bows
He willing and eager to obey
Tears into each gift for baby sister

Delve into the unknown, discover what resides inside a box
Find out what hides within a heart, a soul
My decision to move, leave all that is known
Leave behind a life, a friend, a sunny world

The real gift is me, dear children, nearby you now
Far from the warmth of a California coastline
To the land of slips on the ice, long winters
Snow button in my car, four-wheel drive

The day after gifts revealed, wrapping paper gone
Two feet of snow to shovel from my deck
Under a clear, pink Boxing Day sky
Measuring love in twenty-four inches

–Victoria Emmons  © 2016

The Box

Thirty years
More or less
Tumble away
In an instant

Tiny red sneakers
“Left” written
On one toe
“Right” the other

White tee-shirt
Snaps at the shoulder
Easier to slip
Over a wiggly head

Matching series of
Exercise books
A backwards five
Plus a rounded six

Smiley faces on
Stick bodies stand
In a crayon land of
Perpetual rainbows

Pink, smocked dress
Seldom worn
Still like new

Stuffed kangaroo
Carries joey
In her pocket
Warm and safe

Red corduroy
Slightly faded
Suits a small jacket
Quite stylish

Tap dance costume
With twirling skirt
Missing one blue
Sequined arm band

Four letters glued
On a volleyball shirt
Spell champion
For that year

Note cards with
College logo
Embossed on fine
Paper stock

Four corners of a hat
Frame a black square
Upon which a tassel
Crowns success

My Little Ponies
In a zip-locked tomb
Emerge to neigh with
The next generation

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

Real Estate

The owners seemed happy
With their new abode, a comfortable
Second floor room with a spectacular view.

It had been lived in, to be sure,
Yet they didn’t seem to mind its
Lack of newness or the scent of another.

The place became their own, each
Adding his or her special feature to create
A home worthy for their children.

On most days, the morning sun peeked
Sideways into the room they shared,
Huddled as though they were once homeless.

He flew out early for work on Tuesday,
Leaving her behind to tend the family
They both awaited with anticipation.

Before he returned, she knew
It was time. Each newborn arrived, as
Expected, all wet and wondrous.

Eager to tell him, she called out
And called again, to no avail, his
Response never heard nor sung.

To her surprise, a sudden great flood
Began to rise around the walls, encasing
The room where the children slept.

She screamed and begged for mercy
To a God she did not know, and fluttered
Aimlessly trying to protect those she loved.

The masked man saw her frightful motions,
Watched her flying in and out in fear,
Hoping someone would spare her family.

Don’t knock that one down, said the man to
His partner as they pressure washed the walls,
She has babies in that nest, babies who need to fly.

–Victoria Emmons, Copyright 2015

A Mother’s Tale

Blocks in my shoes
Towels about the room
Cows moo, pigs oink
A farmer sings a tune

A smile and then a laugh
A boo-boo on your chin
All part of growing up
A phase you’re living in

Awakening at dawn
Greet a brand new day
Bananas and some Cheerios
And then a round of play

Before your little body
Tuckers out for the morn
Despite all your objections
Sleep before you’re worn

The day renews itself again
More snow, a brand new face
Just in time to search and find
A few good cats to chase

Discover slides and rolling things
Or even steps to climb
The local spot for little kids
Gives all some fun play time

Or take a spin upon a horse
A very different kind
Encircles merry songs
And a golden ring to find

Sleepy baby, your eyes do nod
So much to see and learn
A million miles in your young life
For knowledge do you yearn

Inquiring mind you have, my love
The cabinets are your prey
To open doors for bowls inside
As instruments to play

A string quartet, perhaps,
A drum or two in time
Your rhythmic beat upon the floor
Reminds me that you’re mine

And now the day grows dark, sweet boy
The time for bath is nigh
As music lulls you fast asleep
Night hugs you by and by

–Victoria Emmons, © 2014