how did I get so lucky
as to have not one       not two
but three kids
willing to slap me upside the head
with a four-day-old fish
anytime I forget my turn in a game
or use the wrong pronoun
or slip by telling a joke that was funny
back when but definitely is not
funny now       & how
lucky I am that I don’t really
have to think       at all
for myself anymore—I can just
ask any of them       like human google
like Siri brought to life
but with more natural sounding
inflections & without
fear of getting rebuked by a robot
for using profanity—& I know this
sounds sarcastic but it’s not

my mother-in-law       may she rest
in peace       as God knows
she never did in life       told me once
the reason to have kids
is precisely for that bowl of cereal
they dump onto your face
at 5 am when       after all       you should
be grateful they’d gotten
their own breakfast
& that I should
moreover be ever grateful
for the bigger thing—the way kids keep
parents fluid & nimble,
teaching us the newest text acronyms

& what crap-TV shows are trending & how
to laugh at this ridiculous shit
—the whole glorious hairball of it—in short
how to stay young in this aging flesh
young       or as they’d remind me
um mom       more like       -ish





Rebecca Foust’s seventh book, Only (Four Way Books, 2022) earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly and a spot on the Academy of American Poets 2022 Featured Fall Books List. Her poems have appeared widely in such journals as The Common, Narrative, Poetry, Ploughshares, and Southern Review. She received the 2023 New Ohio Review Prize and was runner-up for the 2022 Missouri Review Editors Prize, in recent years also winning the James Hearst, Pablo Neruda, and Poetry International Prizes. Recognitions include Hedgebrook, MacDowell, and Sewanee fellowships as well as a Marin County Poet Laureateship where her program, “Poetry as Sanctuary,” featured local immigrant poets.

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