Brett Mertins

Using Our Words

I’m in the kitchen washing dishes when
Joe yells, Daddy, come see what William did.
Tell me what happened, I say and lean in
to scrape dried jam off a sippy cup lid.
And like he always does, Joe calls to me
—I swear I hear this fifty times a day—
Daddy, you have to come in here and see.
Joseph, you need to use your words
, I say.

It’s in our nature to make words a game.
However, yesterday an unfledged bird
fell from its nest and thumped the ground, lame.
The boys kept watch without a word
until lunch when, licking jam off his bread,
Joe said, That baby bird we found is dead.

***

Brett Mertins lives with his wife and two sons in Omaha, Nebraska, where he teaches English at Metropolitan Community College. His poetry has appeared in Think: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism, and Reviews and The American Aesthetic.

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