tree circles 4

By JL Martindale

Walk into the waterfall
– a hint

From the other room,
my son mumbles to his father.
Something about healing potions.
I am reading poetry in bed
where a dog rests at my feet.
His ears perk when I move;
he wants me to take him outside.

From the other room, my son mumbles
something about creating healing potions
to his father who always beats the game
but never gets too involved in story.
I am holding a book of disconnected words
that all mean no.

From the other room my son mumbles.
His father’s voice cracks walls.
I can’t hear what he’s saying,
but it feels like an aftershock.
I am holding a book.
A cat sits on my chest.
Dog’s tail taps footboard.
Stubborn things,
they don’t give up.

From the other room, my son mumbles.
Impatient dishes smack tile countertop.
Silverware jumps into empty sink.

From the other room my son says
something about a magic potion.
I listen to footfalls in the hall.
The cat jumps off my chest.
Dog stands.
Door slams open.

My son is in tears,
says he needs help finding a potion.
But his dad is sleeping.

I apologize. I never beat the game.
But I know the story; it ends sad.
Yes, our hero saves the kingdom
and rescues his princess.
But she won’t, can’t stay.
So why bother with potions
that supposedly restore hearts?
They don’t.

My son, with defeated eyes
says he needs help.
I leave the book
and follow him.

First published in A Poet is a Poet No Matter How Tall, Episode II: Attack of the Poems

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