On not shielding young minds from the dark by Carolee Bennett


They all rolled over and one fell out.
I’ve told you a hundred times:

there’s no back-together-again, Son.
Not all passengers make the return trip.

The kitchen can fail to keep supper warm.
And your mother’s wearing a human body

that cannot last. Black cat, black cat,
what do you think of that?
The darkness

that moves across the porch is an intruder,
not the shadow of a limb. Trees wear branches

like pointed antlers, and every living thing has horns.
Or thorns. Those tumors grow inside us like beanstalks

no boy has the authority to cut. Save that ambition
for the removal of burdocks from your laces.

Be careful. So many birds and flowers have names
you will never learn. There’s a hole in the bucket.

You’re going to regret it. The answer to your hunger
hangs naked in the butcher shop by its ankles.


Carolee Bennett is an artist and poet who lives near Albany, NY, with her three sons. Her poetry has been published in a number of print and online journals, and she is pursuing an MFA in poetry through Ashland University in Ohio. “On not shielding young minds from the dark” is a phrase she read in (& then borrowed from) a Brain Pickings article partly about Maurice Sendak.