I'd Like To Make A Friend
A poem about my shy kid taking a risk
“I’d like to make a friend today,” she says
This skill, the making friends, she’s working on
And so I let her go, her in our stead,
Around the plastic rock, to th’ slides beyond.
Three sisters, maybe cousins, as a crew
Storm through the tubes, wrong-way the slides en masse.
My kid, outside their orbit, cannot do
This roughness; lets them miss her, lets it pass.
Turnover. Now those girls have left the field.
I play as monster to indulge my kid,
But playgrounds draw an e’er-refreshing yield,
And now a kindred shy girl’s com unhid.
Without a word exchanged my daughter climbs
Behind her new subject, on platform shared,
And down the chute and up a dozen times,
They silently take turns and keep things fair.
Until the time, my daughter in the lead,
Does not receive the other on her tail
And peeks around the post so furtively
Why this reciprococity has failed.
Turnover. Even this kid has to go,
And actually, since it is getting dark,
I make my daughter exit even though
She’d rather starve than leave her precious park.
”I’m sad I didn’t get to say goodbye
To my new friend,” she openly confess.
“But aren’t you glad you made that friend?” I try.
She shrugs and eats a Cheerio. “I guess.”
Kids, am I right? This is a true story, which I hesitate to say because the tick-tock of it is so banal, like of course it’s true because who would make this up? Anyway after the events in this poem the other kid came back to the playground as we were leaving and my kid did get to say goodbye to her playmate and everyone was happy. I didn’t put that stuff in the poem because I’m trying to make you feel something, dammit.
Anyway I guess the point is you can get along and work closely with someone and feel like you have one of those relationships where you don’t even really have to talk, and you think that’s all well and good until it’s over and in your idyllic silence you forgot to even say goodbye. This is a crazy world. We’re not getting any younger. Hold your loved ones and tell them you love them, yes, of course, that’s well-worn advice. But also just say goodbye every time you go. Just in case, right? God forbid you ever get in a situation where you get the terrible news and you ask yourself, “Jeez, what even was the last thing I said to that person?” You don’t want it to have been something like “rice again?” or “these fucking politicians, man” or “just finish up on the potty so I can get out the door.” You want it to be a nice goodbye. Be generous with them.
Anyway, I’m rambling. Thanks for reading.
This is Phil.