Emma's First Smile
by Russell Rowland



And this time it is not gas, by heaven—it is
not gas! At five weeks, observable response
to the human tragicomedy, to the vapid face
of her Grandpa floating like a harvest moon.

We laugh, capering idiots: we the divorced,
the surgically-repaired, the frequently-bereft;
we who wept at leavings, and still they left;
who shatter mirrors with our repulsiveness.

Each of us has caused another soul to cry,
then felt black remorse, lately or long ago.
Who can remember why we did: what was
at stake? We acted righteous in our eyes.

Yet a gift was given, in the birthing suite,
to all who realized they had done wrong.
She seems content with us, and with a life
the infant doesn’t choose to tumble into.

Reformed characters, we’ll make amends,
solicit smiles instead—our contrite hearts
the one offering acceptable. Here they are
in homage, Empress of the changing table.





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