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The Saving

We save our children.

Some days we save them from the riptide and the masked gunman on

the bleachers,

the armed robber under the stairs,

we save them. We save them

from the spiders in their dreams

that breathe fire

and then we walk on that fire

to get them away from the burning buildings, raging.

We look at our children and we save them with meanness in our eyes

and the eventual moment when all patience is lost

and they tell us to go fuck ourselves,

we’d never understand what is in their hearts, anyway.

Sometimes, we think they save us, and they do,

from the lies we tell ourselves about how special our lives have been—

flying in the circus, the boardroom, at the operating table,

the gas pump.

But, really, it is we who save them

from the car smash-ups in snowstorms and their loneliness

when it backs up on their bodies like monster waves

smashing down without warning.

We save them.

Then, when all is said and done,

when we think all the saving has been used up,

when the Saving Shop has been closed down for the night,

we get a note from our old high school friend,

Sad news, my father passed peacefully in his sleep, service Monday,

so we go down to the kitchen and make herb-encrusted chicken, potatoes,

and garlic-infused broccoli

for the grieving.

It does not matter that we want some saving too,

that we want our beloved, our neighbor,

the bear in the woods,

to wrap woolly arms around us in the naked night

and hold us so close it hurts—

we are in the business of saving.

It’s an endless and priceless monotony

that does not ever finish—

the way we save,

the day-to-day saving,

the way we take our hands and put them out and say, Bleed, it’s alright,

I will catch you in your breaking.

from Mesmerizing Sadly BeautifulFind more by Matthew Lippman at the library

Copyright © 2020 Matthew Lippman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Matthew Lippman Poems

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