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For Evan, Who Says I Am Too Tidy


On grandson's lips, "tidy" is pretty dire:

it smacks of age and tameness, of desire

banked by gray prudence, waiting for commands,

forced to endure the scrubbing of both hands.


But tidy sets the table, mends the toys,

lays out clean bedding and such minor joys

as underpin contentment and at least

nourish with daily bread, if not with feast.


Tidy's been blamed for everything we suffer

from guilt to prisons.  But free-wheeling's rougher,

less wary not to fracture laws and bones,

much less adept with statutes than with stones.


True, tidy seldom goes where genius goes,

but then how many do?  And heaven knows

there's work for us who watch the time, the purse,

the washing of small hands.  I've been called worse.


                                               Rhina P. Espaillat



From Where Horizons Go, New Odyssey Press,

1998.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

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