Happy New Year! January — a time of beginnings, a time to think of children. Because they are the epitome of beginnings and the future stretches broad before them. If you are a parent, you know what it’s like to be in the thick of it — changing diapers, preparing meals, picking up toys, driving to the playground, to play dates, to appointments. It’s hard to see beyond that, even though you know they are changing and growing every day, even though you’d like to step back and cherish each day. (My own sons are now middle-aged — how did that happen?!)

Mike Bove was a teacher and able to be the primary home-parent for his boys when they were young. Being with his children day-to-day, it was hard to see the changes even though he was aware that they would be grown one day and no longer need that kind of daily care.

He notes this about writing the poem, “I was…reading a lot of Buddhist philosophy at the time and became fascinated with the idea that there are no actual boundaries between things other than the ones we create in our minds. For instance, what’s the difference between an acorn and an oak tree? On one level it’s a simple question, but if we slow down time and perception enough, can anyone really mark the exact point at which a seed ceases to be a seed and becomes a tree? Everything is connected and changing, and our idea of permanence is just that: an idea.”

This poem was a way for Mike to deal with the grief and fear he felt at losing those moments of his children’s growth and a reminder to appreciate them no matter how hectic the day might be.

Mike Bove is the author of two books of poetry: “Big Little City” (2018) and “House Museum” (2021). His work has appeared in the U.S., UK and Canada in publications including “Rattle,” “The Maine Review,” “The Cafe Review,” and the anthologies “Wait: Poems From The Pandemic” and “Writing The Land Northeast.” In 2021, he was winner of the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest. Mike lives with his family in Portland, where he was born and raised.

Consider Parenthood

Trips to the grocery, the museum.

Basketball practice and T-ball.

Library storytime, winter concerts.

Pizza night, movie night,

late nights, and night lights.

Tantrums, time-outs, and long fevers.

No time to step back and watch

because you’re in it with both hands,

head and heart reeling, a lovestruck fool

punchy as hell. Up before dawn

for years to get breakfasts and pack lunches,

offer hugs and high-fives, misguided advice

and chilly rebukes. Bleary and spinning

toward appointments, school, bedtime.

And when sleep calls, you’ll fight it

though you’re drop-dead tired,

eyes wide in the dark because all of it

could slip away while you’re not watching,

gone like that. When dreams do come

they are of youth eternal, time stretched out

flat and unmoving, glorious and easy, until

the sun comes up and they’re grown.

Judy Kaber is Belfast’s poet laureate.