Brendan Bense

I often think about what it means to raise a child
today, what it meant twenty years ago, when my dad rose

without saying anything and instead opened

my bedroom door to let the cold in, the light in

from the hallway. I know we like to think of ourselves

as better than our parents; we won’t be feeding our kids

any sugar, no TV after 8pm—we’ll eat dinner together

every night and say good morning, every morning, in the brightest

and most gentle of voices. Yet I know I’ll get so tired

of all that, and instead start my day with laundry down the block once

the laundromat opens, at six, thinking of chores and rhythm

and what needs to be done around the house. And I’ll get tired

too of packing lunches, and I’ll even forget to throw in

little notes that say that I’m thinking of them; but

did I ever read those notes from him, carefully, admire

the way his handwriting was a series of intimate loops

bending over backwards to say something, anything?

The first time I discovered he was human was when he misspelled

Halloween. Is there a way to tell someone I’m sorry,

I’m thinking of you, I love you, It will all be okay,

I’m only human, all at once, over an entire lifetime?

Brendan Bense is a poet and UC Irvine MFA candidate whose work can be found in Columbia Journal, The Crab Orchard Review, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Before joining the cohort at UCI, he worked as a writer and editor in New York and Philadelphia.

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