The Drop-Off

Robert Fanning

Dark October morning, the shush and blur

of red brake lights beyond our wipers

as we pull into the drop-off lane. Kids tumble

out of lined-up cars and vans like paratroopers

huffing backpacks, lunch bags and instrument

cases, under umbrellas, silhouetted in headlights,

marching into school. Every day I say it twice —

I love you, have a good day, I love you —

before you disappear, entering the stream

of bodies flowing into the lobby and halls.

You don't know this: how most days I stall,

blocking traffic, stealing a moment to memorize

the bright facts of your hair, the side of your faces,

to study your walk, caressing your backs

and shoulders with my invisible hand.

Or that I blow you a kiss — a wobbling globe,

its glassy sheen I dream impenetrable — floating

toward you — to surround and guide you,

my love’s great armor to guard you. This is

the same kiss blown by all of history’s moms

and dads — look at us in those grainy pictures —

huddled on the docks, waving the small flags

of our handkerchiefs at some tiny ship

on the horizon, or watching from our porches

the passing troops, wishing you weren’t

in their number, praying you’ll never see it

face to face: the angry red slash, the fresh

eraser, the open mouth of the zero.


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