United States
39° 50' 20.0112" N, 74° 42' 37.0656" W

Mom’s hand vices around tiny fingers,
because tiny toes should not tread
into traffic.

But Mom’s grip slackens
as yours tightens around a wheel
that steers you
onto the turnpike.

And there’s an edge to her voice
when she says,
“Don’t be afraid, just go, go, go.”

But you can’t.
Because going means there will be no more soft words,
and someone won’t always be waiting when you get home
to tie braids in your hair
and put love in your heart
and ice cream on the table
(after you’ve finished your veggies).

So you breathe in,
and as your foot presses the gas,
the fear dissipates,
and you go, go, go
with the rest of them.

But even when
the passenger seat is empty,
and you’re not so scared,
you can’t help but think
that tiny toes should not be treading
into traffic.


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