Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Suddenly Houdini is here in the carbook photo

with us, as I pull into the grocery store

parking lot. You’ve got a library book

in your lap, and he emerges from the realm

of what you didn’t know before.


Wow, Mom, look!


I can’t find ingredients for supper

and with those pages in front of your face

you keep bumping into the cart.

But you’re making this moment

incredible, stupendous, mystifying

and I can’t bring myself to tell you,

watch where you’re going.

I can’t argue when you announce

in the check out aisle you’ll be

a magician when you grow up.


Because you already are—


You’ve made a decade disappear

like a rainbow of scarves stuffed

into a hat. Ta-daa!

A dove flies out and we

never see him again.


Shortly after your birth, one night I woke up

and wandered through the house, window

to window, searching for the baby

of my womb—until I remembered you

had already been born. I returned

to bed and found a creature breathing,

conjuring life out of hazy autumn air.


Three years later, on vacation to Chicago, I leashed

your wrist to mine, but somehow you wriggled loose

and were out of your seat. Up on stage, before

I could grab you, there you were

at the children’s theater, bowing

with the other performers.


And now Ladies and Gentlemen,


in front of our very eyes, this boy’s face

becomes a young man’s. I watch his jaw

lengthen and set. His eyes reach past me

to a place of his own determination,


where my own hands are tied,

my purpose over, having introduced

this death-defying escape artist

to the world.

Ramona McCallum writes and raises six kids in windy Garden City with husband Brian, ceramic sculptor/art teacher. Ramona’s first collection of poetry, Still Life with Dirty Dishes, is forthcoming from Woodley Press




Comments on: "The Ropes by Ramona McCallum" (3)

  1. WONDERFUL! Ramona, you are so amazing! Best of luck in your next career, sounds like the kids are launched

  2. Nice stretch of years, Ramona. You did it well. Your son sounds like my now 26 year old grandson (whom I helped raise) in his search for whatever lies ahead and is, right now, the most important thing.

  3. Jill McCallum said:

    I was there when he was born. I was there when that toddler ran on stage. I watch now as he shares information with me that I agree with, wonder about, disagree with. What a journey. Still love that little boy.

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