You Are Not a Helicopter

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You are not a helicopter,
propellers whirring overhead,
slicing the air like ninja arms
to keep little hands from
wandering into the badlands of bad foods.

You cannot be everywhere at once
not the office, not the car,
not the school cafeteria or class party.

The emergency room,
a nightmare brought to life.

You, keep your head up,
smile at those who smile at you,
look everyone in the eye,
even when you don’t have the strength—

They do not see that small body you know so
well, the baby turned toddler, then child thrust
into a jungle of possible pitfalls, can’t know
the terror of watching how quickly that little
body can turn on itself.

You can’t forget the first time your child’s throat
began closing—or the helplessness of
not knowing the provocation or cure—
How can they know what it feels like
to jam an EpiPen into still baby-soft skin
or the fear, a dark shadow you don’t want over a tiny life?

You, take to arms—
it takes courage to provide cover.
It might look like you hover,
but isn’t that just another name
for love,
your wings in midair.

Food poet Annelies Zijderveld is a cooking teacher and author of Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2015).