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Katherine Burkman

Katherine Burkman is a Professor Emeritus from The Ohio State University. She has published widely on Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, and other modern dramatists as well as publishing plays and poems.


Suzanne Contemplates

         I am sitting at our kitchen table. Light is streaming in through the curtainless window.  I do this every morning.  Now I will read the paper and take my pills with hot water.  I feel relaxed.  Being retired allows for such time luxury. I mean it’s 10:00 in the morning and I don’t have to be anywhere until 1:00.  Sure, The Dispatch is despicable, but I can read as much or as little of it as I want for as long as I want

         Ah, here’s a story about a stolen child.  No, it says that she might have been purchased from a mother who couldn’t afford to keep her.  To feed her. Now the new parents are in custody.  But where is the child? I’m sitting here now, not reading the paper. Where, I ask myself again, is the child? There are so many stories these days about stealing children. Grownups stealing children. But where is this child?

         I just reread the story. So much left out. Did the child eat the food her captors gave her?

         Did the food make her sick? Did she throw up? Did her captors mean well and want her? Did they hug her? Did they beat her when she cried? Did they teach her to read? Did they take her to school? Did they buy her new clothes?  Did they hug her?

         Did they use her for sex? Did they sell her for sex? Did they hug her? Did they think of how she felt?  Did they. . . love her? Did the wind whistle by her window?

         What is clear is that she is lost, this child. I was lost once or twice in crowds when I was a child but I don’t remember much. My experience was opposite from that of this lost child. I was overprotected, overfed, over clothed, over loved. So why do I feel for, or maybe even like I am this lost child?


         Is it because love is never enough or the way you want it to be? Is it how we lose our parents as we grow up and away or they die? Is that the condition of life, to be lost or to feel loss as if lost?

         The telephone is ringing. I look at my caller ID and don’t recognize the number. Surely some charity wants me to donate.  Or perhaps, I say to myself, laughing at how ridiculous I am being, it is the lost child.  Perhaps she needs me.

         Were we overprotected because our parents feared our loss?  Or as some shrinks say about overprotection, were our parents secretly wishing to lose us? Want us lost? Would I ever wish to sell my children? And if yes, then would I want them back?  I hope so.

         Look out there on my porch. The small Buddha sits on the table.  He is laughing.

         Did they hug her?