Selling Your Child on Idealism

realtor

Friday

Here’s a poem to give you an end-of-the-week jolt. Parents will recognize the speaker’s dilemma: we want to nurture our children’s idealism, even though we ourselves know there are reasons to worry. I love the concluding analogy, which casts the parent as a fast talking realtor.

Good Bones

By Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

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  • Natalie Tyler

    Thank you for posting this poem. The kinds of contemporary poems I like are those with a clear “point of view” that let us feel a sudden surge of humanity, of being a part of this living and dying spectrum.


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