Suffer the Little Children

What happens next? the child asked,
and the burden of the bundle
on the mother’s back became the huge bleak hill
mommy walked along but could not climb over.

To get her out of herself the child’s father
took her to the merry-go-round,
but the painted ponies always
went ‘round and ‘round
in the up and down
of her sad thought.

Do the dead live there like they live here?
the child asked, over and over again
like the merry-go-round went 'round.

And mommy?

No one answered, and
though she waited,
there were no Jesus-rays shone down
mommy’s dung-bleak hill.

—Barbara Lightner, Milwaukee, WI