Visiting the Poet

— for Chris Msosa

I can see you, running,
like a young Bateleur, dust plumed
behind your pounding feet
before settling back into the ground
as if you had never passed by.

Your eyes are copper pennies,
your breath bursting from you
in rhythm with your feet,
your heart a drumbeat,
a staccato song of joy and fear.

You reach the door at last,
the bold running boy left in the yard
while this suddenly shy boy
wipes the sweat from his palms,
the grit from his hair.

A deep breath,
a knock,
an open door.

But this is not the man you’ve come so far to see.
His family greets you
as if you are important
and not just a young boy
on a reader’s journey.

The poet’s wife smiles –
she’s had visitors like you before –
and pushes her sadness to the side
as she pushes her son forward,
a playmate for the day,
an appeasement.

For now, you must wait
and try again
to offer up the words you’ve saved
like a bright secret
just for him,
the ones you’ve hoarded and formed
into the shape of a small boy’s heart.

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