by Matthew J. Spireng
Free Caregiver Support Group: 11:30 a.m. Community Center, 3 Veterans Drive, New Paltz. Join Miss Penny for a fun-filled storytime for the very young. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
– Announcement in Daily Freeman, Kingston, NY
Remember now, children, when Mommy
collapses on the couch—face down or face up,
it doesn’t matter which—you need to
make your way to the kitchen however
you can. Crawl, toddle, roll even, if that’s
the best you can do, and go to the cabinet
where Mommy hides that stuff
she sometimes drinks that makes her
all giddy and happy even when you’re fussing
or pooped in your diapers, or worse. I know
it’s high up, but if you can just manage
to shove that chair over and maybe
get the dog to lie next to the chair, you can
climb up the dog’s back onto the chair.
From there if you can raise yourself up
you can probably climb onto the counter
where you can reach the knob
on the cabinet door. Give it a hearty pull
and the cabinet door should pop right open.
There will be many things in there, but
you know the bottle Mommy likes best.
Pull it out carefully. Oh, don’t drop it
or Mommy will be very mad. Now try
to climb back down without dropping
the bottle. If the dog has moved try to
entice it back by pretending to have food
in one of your little hands. Be careful, though,
to pull your hand back before the dog
bites. Now if you’ve made it back to the floor,
crawl or toddle or roll as best you can,
being careful with the bottle, of course,
back to the couch where Mommy
is still lying face down or face up
with her eyes closed. The next part
may be a little difficult, but if you
work at it you should be able to master it:
twist off the top of the bottle
and spill a little of the liquid inside
into your hand. Now put your hand
in your mouth and make loud
squealing noises. Mommy will wake up,
of course, and seeing you with the bottle
will act all angry and flustered
at first, but then she’ll take a drink
from the bottle and maybe another
and soon she’ll be as happy as you
started to feel as you were waking her up.
You’ve done a very good job
if this is how it all ends. Remember
what Miss Penny always says: It’s never
too early to become a good caregiver.
Matthew J. Spireng’s full-length poetry book Good Work won the 2019 Sinclair Poetry Prize and was published in 2020 by Evening Street Press. His book What Focus Is was published in 2011 by WordTech Communications. His book Out of Body won the 2004 Bluestem Poetry Award and was published in 2006 by Bluestem Press at Emporia State University. His published chapbooks are: “Clear Cut,” “Young Farmer;” “Encounters;” “Inspiration Point,” winner of the 2000 Bright Hill Press Poetry Chapbook Competition; and “Just This.” Since 1990, his poems have appeared in publications across the United States in such places as North American Review, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Louisiana Literature, Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner and Poet Lore. He is an 11-time Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of The MacGuffin’s 23 rd Annual Poet Hunt Contest In 2018 and the 2015 Common Ground Review poetry contest. Website: matthewjspireng.com.