On their way to the school bus stop
is this place he & his boys named,
an adventure of half-burned logs
opposite a river red gum stump.
His boys call the logs ‘the fires’ &
they climb over them, making up games.
He swings them in ritual from the stump
pretending they are parachuting,
spinning around around floating,
mocking arthritis that mocks him.
He imagines the tree in its prime
& as he pirouettes he glimpses
its dappled canopy in the days
before that boon, electricity,
the likely reason for its felling.
This morning he returned from the bus
to news, the death of a friend’s daughter.
She has driven her car over a cliff
& an aircraft has plummeted
from the innocent sky above New York.
He senses all these people sorrowing.
Now he must wait through the school day,
helpless hours of grace till he makes his way
by the Parachute Fires, to meet his boys.
There was no reason for today
being different, but his heart knows
happiness is brief, love harnessed to grief.
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*
I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves – thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.
* Gloria Steinem