For a Little Girl in Minnesota

Why are tiny fingers
on a face, consoling:
“It’s OK, Mommy,
I’m right here with you?”
Why the caustic smell?
Why is crimson Slurpee
seeping through the front
seat, pooling on the
floor below her?

Why did the four-year-old
Hear pop-pop-pop-pop-
pop-pop-pop from her car seat?

A four-year-old should
Be sitting in the sun
on the corner, four doors
from home, skin taut as
a talking drum—day-
dreaming of dolls, wondering
what’s for lunch, after her nap

A four-year-old should
Be pondering crayons,
paintbrushes, pencils;
Speculating on
what school will be like

A soon-to-be reader,
She pretends to read,
Memorizing stories’ words—
Simple stories, predictable plots;
Her Mommy and her Mommy’s
Guy read Mother Goose to
Her, asking open-ended questions:
“What happened?”
“Why do you think he did that?”
“What do you think is going to happen next?”
Her gleeful shrieks shattered
their eardrums, feeding their spirits

Why do words, “I’ll huff,
and I’ll puff, and I’ll
blow…” from her favorite
story, flashback and loop?
Shouldn’t four-year-olds
Stumble on words; not bodies?

Former forklift driver/warehouse worker/janitor, Raymond Nat Turner is a NYC poet; BAR's Poet-in-Residence; and founder/co-leader of the jazz-poetry ensemble UpSurge!NYC. Read other articles by Raymond Nat, or visit Raymond Nat's website.