After Disappointment, by Mark Jarman

To lie in your child’s bed when she is gone

Is calming as anything I know. To fall

Asleep, her books arranged above your head,

Is to admit that you have never been


So tired, so enchanted by the spell

Of your grown body. To feel small instead

Of blocking out the light, to feel alone,

Not knowing what you should or shouldn’t feel,


Is to find out, no matter what you’ve said

About the cramped escapes and obstacles

You plan and face and have to call the world,

That there remain these places, occupied


By children, yours if lucky, like the girl

Who finds you here and lies down by your side.

From “Questions for Ecclesiastes” by Mark Jarman (Story Line Press: 100 pp., $10). Reprinted by permission.