Whirligig by Barbara Costas-Biggs

after Mary Oliver

It’s okay, I tell him,
his small boy tears on the back
of my hand, now on my forehead
where I wipe dirt from the morning’s
gardening away.  Let me get a better
look at you, I say,
never knowing what might set him
spinning, like a whirligig falling.
It all seems right: fingers intact and
wiggling, no obvious signs of trauma.
My worries for him are not
these small defeats. I worry that his
dreams might fly out of his head,
circle above and out of his reach like the buzzards
over the curvy county roads,
the hawks over the henhouse.
So much loss on these roads, I think, and so
much that I am unable to fix.
The things I have lost I measure in
resentment and shadow,
all boxed inside my chest, resting like flint.
Across his cheek, I smudge him,
whisper to the god-of-small-boys,
more powerful than mother and
more present than I can be:
Carry my love like your best trinket
and follow the geese wherever they fly.