La Vie en Rose

by Christine Adams Beckett

Skipping along the pressure-treated planks
Of a removable dock
A child fearlessly anticipates
The first plunge into the warm
July waters of a pristine lake.

Her mother’s arms await her,
And outstretched invitation.
The water is clear, fish happy
Until the grin of the child is morphed
Into a grimace of pain that
Accompanies the long, wooden sliver
That pierces her soft heel.

Peals of laughter are replaced
With howls of a preschooler’s
Injury, cheeks paled under the
Gilded light of the afternoon sun.

A mother’s lips surround the
Entry point, sucking the smart
With no desired result. A squeeze of
The thumbs in the same swollen locale
Bring nothing but added injury.

An intermission of ignored reasoning
Ends with the declaration that
She cries not for the injury,
But the desire to be loved.
“Just hold me and kiss me
Instead. It’s not my foot!”

The unspoiled id, not yet
Encumbered by the ego, the superego
Reveals the child-like emotion that
Is unequivocally shared by all humankind,
As the mother recognizes that
She wants nothing but more
Of the same:

Affections, given freely,
Unable to be requested
Due to the thorns that reside
Festering in her own
Middle-aged body.

She sits in the makeshift operating room,
A tiled bathroom, sterile and cold,
Embracing her former self,
Cherubic, innocent, unencumbered,
Peachy and new with a sage-like
Ability to communicate
What Louis Armstrong croons
On the stereo left on that morning:

Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La Vie en Rose.