there they stand...
ready to take on the day...
to be cool and have fun and be open
and learn and laugh and make new friends.

what you don't see in this picture
is where their mom stands on the sidewalk,
watching from behind a line of cars to make sure
that she goes into her new junior high school...that she has found her friends,
that she doesn't look upset, that she doesn't look lost.

you don't see the mom standing outside
the grade three door, making sure that he finds his seat,
that he doesn't look sad, that he doesn't glance towards the door,
in expectation of seeing her still expectation of
familiar reassurance.

you don't see the mom get in her quiet car
and silently but surely hyperventilate
in order not to break down and cry...
did she tell her enough, did she warn her about drugs enough,
did she tell her she was not to leave the school yard...
why didn't she work with him more on tying his shoes,
did he have everything he was supposed to have?
did she pack enough in their lunches? we need to buy vitamins.

and drive back to an empty home.