Things They Never Taught Me In Social Work School


I need someone to show me
how to prepare for the court date
without vomiting up my naiveté,
while repeating the phrase
“broken baby, broken baby” and hating myself
for noting that it is alliterative.
Nothing this hideous should sound beautiful.

These are the things they never taught me.

I don’t want to write a metaphor
and certainly not a twelve page court report,
I want to breathe life into the fingerprint shaped patches which line
his fragile bones
and watch him smile once more.

Yet he is blue upon blue.
Sapphires grace his ruined ribs,
cobalt paintings sweep across his pelvic bone.
I’ve never felt
so cold before.

Can’t I be god for just a day?
Tidy up the house in his absence?


I’m playing catch with a teenage boy
who has waited his whole life
for the car that is not coming

His father states he got lost.
He has been lost
a very long time.

The youth plays his best,
but never scores.
I’m running late
for my two o’clock,
but we will play a little more.
Nothing has ever been as important as seven imaginary points.
I need him to know
that some days we can
reach our goals.

Priorities are clearer on visit days.


Santa drives a white standard-issued Focus
and he isn’t getting overtime for this
yet (s)he’s never been paid more.


Children sleep best
when the world is crashing ’round them.
I wonder if they count sheep,
wonder if they lead them home
knowing that nothing matters more in this world
than your own grass,
your own herd.
I wonder if the sheep are screaming.


There are some questions you cannot answer honestly.
Will he be ok?
Does my mother ask about me?
Are we ever going home?


Long after clocking out,
there are still some questions you cannot answer honestly.
I walk through the sanctuary doors;
a baby plays in the floor.
The family gathers,
discussing their large dreams contained in this,
the smallest, most fragile of things.

Don’t they know he is so perfectly

The grandmother smiles as she turns to ask me,
Aren’t those eyes the bluest thing you’ve ever seen?

I lie.


© Holly Michaels, 2016

Public Domain Photo