While flipping through one of my favorite poetry collections — Good Poems, compiled by Garrison Keillor — I came across this lovely, sentimental little poem called “To a Five-Year-Old.” If you are a parent, or an aunt or uncle, or a teacher, or if you have a mother, you’ll love it. And I couldn’t resist adding a picture of my own son, who happens to be five, and who I pray grows up with kindness.
To a Five Year Old
by Fleur Adcock
A snail is climbing up the window-sill
into your room, after a night of rain.
You call me in to see, and I explain
that it would be unkind to leave it there:
it might crawl to the floor; we must take care
that no one squashes it. You understand,
and carry it outside, with careful hand,
to eat a daffodil.
I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails:
your gentleness is moulded still by words
from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds,
from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed
your closest relatives, and who purveyed
the harshest kind of truth to many another.
But that is how things are: I am your mother,
And we are kind to snails.