By Patrick T. Reardon


My first job landed on me like a ton of children

on my four-hundred-and-twenty-eighth day.  It

began with my brother.  Two sisters followed.

Two more brothers. Eight more sisters.  The first

leads, shepherds, guardians, models, corrects,

parents, loves.  I watch in Burger King as the

oldest girl has her eyes out for each of the four

small ones. She tracks the route of each, the

message of the lips and cheeks.  She knows each

inner fabric — the stories lived out there, she

hears in blips and blurts and epic runs of words

and visions that she holds in her heart.  She is

the translator, the middleman, the bridge that

each side walks across to the other.  She carries

weight on her six-year-old shoulders.  She knows

the weight I carry on my sixty-seven-year-old

shoulders.  I carry the baby because the baby

must be carried and because I find the baby

endlessly a wonderment, flesh of my flesh, bone

of my bone, my blood.  I smile when the baby

smiles.  I fill up with the sight of the wide world

in the wide eyes of the baby. In the wide eyes

of each of the babies, and all of them. Mine is

a happy weight, and dolorous. I want to wrap

my wings around them all, pull them together

in my protecting embrace.  But I am too small,

then and now.


Patrick T. Reardon



This poem, in a slightly different form, originally appeared in Silver Birch Press on 5.24.17.


Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is

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