By Sara Oliver Gordus

Age makes us 
unlikely watchdogs,
uncertain sentries

At the playground, 
the children gathered.
swarming shrieks and hues
Read us a story

They scampered,
a haze of primary colors. 
I could bring joy
so easily.

But I was sluggish.
I didn’t want to read.
I wanted to hold my son.
and not be in a hurry.

Will the strength,
I told myself.
They scrambled onto the bench
I squeezed onto the edge.

The girl
inverted French braid
temporary Frozen tattoos,
Princess Anna, Olaf the goofy snowman

The boy
young soccer star,
impish face, smooth cheeks
He stood behind her.

I like your braid.
as he yanked.
over and over,
Tiny frown lines on her forehead.

maybe he just
social skills? acknowledgment?

I didn’t want to lead.
But I raised my hand
And gently lowered his.
And, for now, it stopped.

Sara Oliver Gordus is a Baltimore-based writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in the Jamaica Observer, the Blood Orange Review, the Wilderness House Literary Review, Open Pages, the Rumpus, Damfino and Nebo.