The Glass Animals
When I hold my daughter in my arms and kiss her goodnight,
when I finally turn away from the fragile ten-year-old child
now folding herself into a curve preparing for sleep,
my eyes light on the shelf near her bed
and I face the glass animals.
Framed in a pine box and resting in front of mirrors,
they line up, double imaged and very precious.
The grey china cat and the brown collie dog,
miniature replicas of beloved pets now gone,
the tiny white mouse and the colt and the donkey,
gifts through generations and found treasures,
all face the now-sleeping child on the bed.
They are no longer the same as they once were.
Some have been broken and mended carefully
and loved more because they were not then perfect.
Injury and accidents have only strengthened their fragility.
I cannot put my fragile child high on a shelf
like a glass animal and protect her from hurt and pain.
I know that life will sometimes cause her to fall and break
and then I will need to do much mending.
My child too will be more precious to me
with every crack and chip.
If only love could shelter what is precious from all harm,
maybe we wouldn’t need high shelves
for beloved glass animals and tubes of glue for mending.
© Barbara Flass 1980