Must, must, must chants the oldest daughter:
Miss Bossyboots, Miss Checks-for-Dust,
manager of disarray and sheepdog to the litter–
all for the the accident of being born first.
Born first and not a boy; elected mini-mom,
she’ll need to find a mini-dad to compensate
the want of firstborn son. That’s at a minimum.
Then there’s all that service to dispense
under the notion that a motor with no load
burns out, and that the God of Order wants
his human sacrifice. She’ll need no goading.
Try telling her to stop, to let it go. She can’t.
She’ll find a youngest son to boss around,
as I found you, my love. So are we bound.
Oh please, please, please….
Those “oldests” get it all, as well you know:
the love, the house, the land…and me
to do for. (Or make me doubt they will.)
Their job: to teach and tease.
Mine: to want, and make them want to give;
to break the cup; they, to fix the spill
again, while I go take a nap…or go
do something more important. For them to see.
And then to praise me. And then forgive.
They serve because they know I’m not like them.
(My worn-out parents gave in, too).
I’m their chance to get it right, their test.
I am the prodigal you love the best.
in Shenandoah 57/1 Spring 2007