How to Explain Death to Your Daughter
Measure out the exact, brutal words,
small enough to fit her years.
Dead. Heart. Breath. Gone. Sad.
Keep for yourself your understated tricks.
Allegories are, to her, half-truths.
The loss of a dog, a mosquito, a man,
have equal weight to her. She will ask
and you will answer again and again
for days, weeks. This is the talk of the season.
Her purple unicorn will perish in the night.
Say goodbye to Glitter, Mom. It’s okay to cry.
Pretend her death game doesn’t freak you out.
Don’t you play it, too, and call it art?
Teach her what to do when she loses you.
Don’t say Heaven. You don’t believe it,
neither will she. Say anything but sleep.
Pray she doesn’t ask if you will die—
that’s for another day. Don’t say pray.