That gold embossed certificate
entitles you to perks
exclusively for VIP’s,
and this is how it works:
It’s issued on conception
and expires in Never-Ten,
irrevocably binding on
your own parental kin.

The terms are clearly written on
its face in tiny print.
You won’t be held accountable
for time and effort spent
on unrelenting nurture from
your cradle to their graves,
for love is not contingent on
the way a child behaves.

Regardless of intent or act
in any circumstance,
the sum of all transgression is
forgiven in advance.
I used my own exemption as
my parents saw me through
the best and worst and points between.
I’ll do the same for you.



2012 Mary Boren
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Conversation with a Toddler

Mommy, can I pick my boo-boo scab?

Because you’ll make your boo-boo bleed.

‘Cause kids with boo-boos always need
to keep out germs.

In a basement lab
a man discovered bad goo on his hand made
infection. That’s what germs are all about.

For good goo in and bad goo out,
a boo-boo scab works better than a band-aid.

Can I pick my boo-boo?
No, don’t pick it.

You’ll never see me picking mine.

‘Cause it’s against the boo-boo laws …

… and if you get a boo-boo ticket
you’ll have no money for the boo-boo fine.

Because, my precious. Just because.



2001 Mary Boren
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The Captive


We crouched upon the forest floor in rapt anticipation.
Comrades and conspirators, we manned our secret station.
The object of our scrutiny was cleverly disguised:
a simple trap my daddy had ingeniously devised.

A dishpan borrowed from my mom was propped up like a lid
upon a stick from which a string led back to where we hid.
Beneath the pan, some cracker crumbs were scattered temptingly
to lure a woodland animal into captivity.

A bashful, bright-eyed chipmunk soon came sniffing at the bait.
My fingers trembled eagerly, but Daddy whispered, “Wait.”
Suspended in the stillness of the mountains’ magic sway,
I held my breath as, silently, we watched our timid prey.

At last the chipmunk ventured in — the moment had arrived!
I pulled the string and sprung the trap so cunningly contrived.
I bolted up. “We got him now!”  I squealed in pure delight,
“I’ll take him home to be my pet. He’ll sleep with me at night!”

The moment wasn’t shattered with a bossy “No, you can’t!”
This father’s skillful handling took on a different slant.
He wrapped his arm around my neck and, in a gentle voice,
began to talk about some things that might affect my choice.

That morning at the chipmunk home this scene might have occurred,
and here’s the conversation that we might have overheard:

“Oh, Mother, what a lovely day!
May I go in the woods and play?
A little girl named Mary Kay
is camping there along the way.”
I want to visit her to say
I’m glad she came and hope she’ll stay.
You say the word and I’ll obey,
but please, please Mother — say I may.”

“Now, son, I told you long ago,
you’ve got to learn to take it slow.
When meeting strangers, you don’t know
if you’ve encountered friend or foe.
But Mary Kay sounds nice, and so
I’ll take a chance and let you go.
Don’t give me cause for worry, though.
Be home before the sun is low.”

He then described the mother as she stood out by the gate
to call her kids to supper … but the youngest one was late.
And even at that moment,  unaware of what we’d done,
the frantic chipmunk mother would be searching for her son.

Before he got the last words out I felt so mean and low,
with teardrops streaming down my face I hollered, “LET HIM GO!

* * * * *

As we released our little friend,
I’m sure my dad suppressed a grin.
The maestro knew that, once again,
he’d played me like a violin.

His subtle sensitivity,
did more than set a chipmunk free —
it found the lock and turned  the key
to liberate the best in me.

The child in me will still refuse
a rigid list of don’ts and dos,
but what a difference in my views
when I’m allowed the chance to choose.

I thank the Lord for giving me
a father wise enough to see
the greatest gift will always be
extended voluntarily.



1990 Mary Boren
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At the Pinnacle

The lifting is assisted by a jump,
so eager is the package to arrive.
He’s landing on the platform with a thump
and smoothly shifting into hyperdrive.

As if to celebrate his two-year span
of time among the mortals, at a height
unprecedented, toddling Mini-Man
ascends the ladder to his launching site.

A sunbeam, filtered through his wispy hair,
cannot begin to match the light that’s dawned
upon his face. How better to prepare
a child for living, earthbound and beyond?

The joy inherent in a playground slide
is not the destination, it’s the ride.



2001 Mary Boren
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