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You're Such a Softie

    by Susan Jones


I see you, granite faced lady

In the next-to-the-last pew on the left side

Jaw clenched, brows pulled

Meeting at the nosepiece of your 

Horn rims.

Totting up the sins of my littles

With the precision of an 

Old-fashioned clanging registration.

They are wearing pants

Mismatched socks

Crawling around on the communion kneeler.


I see you, gangsta-wanna be

With your homies, pants dragging

Dropping f-bombs like sunflower seeds,

Calling out nasty things to the girls

Who roll their eyes, vowing to

Never date that guy (and do,

Three year later)

Pretending that it's cool to fail

When you don't try,

'Cause it would be worse if you try

And really failed.


And then the Christmas pageant

With all the kids in falling-off costumes

Headpieces askew

Stage-whispering that Mary 

Is doing it WRONG

And the lady's eyebrows relax

And her wrinkles move like the

Tectonic plates under Arizona

And re-form the tragic

Rocky Mountains of her face

That smile!


And then the little boy

Alone at his brother's basketball hoop

In the cracked drive with all the weeds

And no hope of even hitting the net

Let alone the rim

And you hitch up your pants

And lift the boy high,

Higher until he dunks the ball

And you both laugh.


You're such a softie.

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