I want to teach Emma who is two
by Patrick T. Reardon

I want to teach Emma who is two
to look out this window
at the chaos of yellow and green
on the mid-autumn tree
— not so chaotic when,
from the ground,
she can see the tree trunk,
solid thick, rising up and branching
and branching with myriad leaves,
each one a tiny branch
but bursting with surface
to feed on light and color
to signal the arc of its journey —
and to notice
how it looks now on this cloudy day
and yesterday in the joyful sun
and tomorrow with the rumble rain,
and to feel with her eyes
the touch of the grit
of the mortar and bricks
of the brown wall behind these leaves,
and to see with her spirit
the spirits moving around
behind that wall,
living the arcs of their journeys,
and to rise up
in her connection to mystery
to the heavens to look down
on this city, this world,
to look down
and see the billions of spirits
on sidewalks and forest paths,
on fields and in towers,
each yearning, each breathing,
each hoping amid the chaos of pain
in the arcs of their journeys,
to look down
and be one with those multitudes
— You, Emma, are multitudes —
and one with the world where they live,
the breathing, yearning earth,
as beautiful
as this mid-autumn tree
outside this window,
which is as beautiful
as every thing
in the Cosmos
and as she is.

PAINTING: Chestnut Trees in Autumn by Hubertine Heijermans (1977).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Emmaline Patrick Reardon is my granddaughter and is soaking up everything she can about life. And she finds it all delightful. So I am always looking for stuff to teach her, including the really big stuff.

PHOTO: The author’s granddaughter, Emmaline Patrick Reardon, with the tree featured in the poem, upper right.

Patrick T. Reardon copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, is the author of ten books, including the poetry collections Requiem for David (Silver Birch Press) and Darkness on the Face of the Deep (Kelsay).His memoir in prose poems Puddin’: The Autobiography of a Baby is forthcoming from Third World Press, and his chapbook The Lost Tribes will be published in January 2022 by Gray Book Press. His poetry has appeared in America, Burningwood Literary Journal, Rhino, Meat for Tea, Under a Warm Green Linden, and many other journals. His Pump Don’t Work blog can be found at