The Invention of Childhood

by John Sibley Williams

The day after I buried my daughter
in poorly folded origami swans, koi,
cranes, roses, saying this is how we
learn to fly, saying happy birthday,
whiskey-warm I fell in love, finally,
with what I took to be fatherhood.
We were watching planes line up
along designated paths, one & then
another lifting & gone. She was two
& the world was white & nothing I
said would stop her from asking the
questions I’d forgotten had answers.
Early morning stars stuck to the sky
like flypaper, snared, buzzing about,
nearly dead. Her paper animals, all
flightless, crumbled & spit-stained,
left tiny hollows in the snow. Plural
& alone, working my fears through
her hair, I sunk an angel into snow
& gave it her name; lit a cigarette &
another; cocked my finger at each
plane & at the stars, blinking out;
said we’ll always have next year &
realized I meant it.