After their hands are washed
After their utensils are chosen
After little brother needs help
After “Get back to the table!”
After “I have to go bathroom!”
After dropped spoons, spun forks, licked knives
After crumpled but spotless napkins
After spilled milk, spilled apple juice
After “that’s enough syrup”
After the potato-fed dog,
After the pancake-fed dog,
After the sausage-fed dog,
After my wife tells me I have to get used to this.
Before half-naked running toddlers,
Before “But that’s what I want to wear”
Before jumping off the couch,
Before jumping on the couch
Before “Do you want to go to the park or not?”
Before the snacks are packed
Before the slathering of toothpaste
Before the gummy vitamins
Before the shoe battles
Before “Get. In. The. Car.”
There is the lull:
dining room table cleared,
dishwasher humming, drain gurgling
I nurse the last quarter-mug of coffee,
Gird myself, ascend to the beautiful chaos.
Added: Friday, June 17, 2016 / From "Let Our Eyes Linger" (Poetry Mutual Press, 2016). Used with permission.
Hayes Davis holds a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Maryland, where he won an Academy of American Poets Prize; he is a member of Cave Canem's first cohort of fellows, a former Bread Loaf working scholar, and a former Geraldine Miles Poet-Scholar at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He has also attended writers retreats at Manhattanville College and Soul Mountain, and will attend the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Artist’s Colony in July 2016. His first volume, Let Our Eyes Linger was published by Poetry Mutual Press. His work has appeared in New England Review, Poet Lore, Gargoyle, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Delaware Poetry Review, Kinfolks, and several anthologies. He teaches high-school English in Washington, DC, and lives in Silver Spring with his wife, poet Teri Ellen Cross Davis, and their children.