Invisible thread


You are attached to me
by an invisible thread
that has to keep you

Like an extendable dog lead,
it lengthens
as you grow.

But in the playground,
I clutch it
as you race and scoot
in whatever world
you’ve thrown around yourself.

I hover on the edge of it,
Rejoicing in your free-range play,
but keeping you in view.
Letting you run free, until
you leave my field of view.

Then, the thread tightens.
I pull at it desperately,
hollering your name.
Gushing it out, like a revolving sprinkler
over the playing children,
floundering around, wobble-legged
in a swirling sea of panic,
tugging at the thread,
my lifeline.

You play cat and mouse,
pushing your boundaries,
asserting your right
to roam freely,
shaking off the grown-up
who hovers over your imaginary world,
where you are indomitable,
pulling you back.

The panic waves have infiltrated
your world.
Someone points
behind a tree stump,
and you emerge
red-faced and rattled
like someone awaken too roughly
from dreams.
I haven’t finished my story! you shout.
You tantrum like a toddler.

That evening
in the precious hour
your sleep and mine,
a holler from upstairs
my ballooning thoughts.
The dangling thread
pulls tight.


© Emily Rogers

“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.

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* Gloria Steinem