Day of the Child


Day of the Child

A Poem
"Open this book on any page and watch how a mother stands between the outside world and her child, making a lullaby for any age that both protects and reveals. Here language itself becomes the act of parenthood. What a book!”—ILLYA KAMINKSY
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From Arra Lynn Ross, a tender, generous, and generative extended poem centered on the experience of parenthood.

“What is learned? I’ll return for my son; / at school, at three thirty-eight, bells will ring & run / days over years.” Using unpredictable syllabics, rhyme, and syntax, Day of the Child captures the sensation of altered time that accompanies a child’s growth. Seasons come and go. A schoolboy becomes a dreaming infant becomes a five-year-old exploring metaphor for the first time becomes an ultrasound image, “a frieze on screen.” A mother cycles through her own often dissonant identities: “soother, watcher, blame-taker.” And both mother and child assume another, significant role: artistic collaborators.

For Day of the Child is a poem co-created by child and mother, offering a space in which each’s stories, thoughts, words—“unbound / by Time & time’s delineations”—tangle together. In which apartness—“Oh indivisible divisible,” the presence of another heart beating inside the mother’s own body—is continually negotiated. And in which the mother considers her place as intermediary between the child and the world: her protection, her complicity, her joy. Its octave pairs ebb and flow, expand and contract, producing a portrait of raising another human as refracted as it is circular, just as a river “breaks into many suns, the sun.” For, as the child asserts, “love is a circl[e] round / as a Ball.”

Challenging the notion that parenthood is not itself a poetic endeavor, Day of the Child makes of childrearing “a refrain I reframed each day with new words.” 

poetry, family, motherhood, parenthood, childhood, children, consciousness, teaching, time, octaves
Publish Date: 
8.5 × 6 × 0.25 in
4.1 oz

Arra Lynn Ross is the author of Seedlip and Sweet Apple and Day of the Child, forthcoming in November 2021.

Praise and Prizes

Blog Post

Milkweed Staff – 04/07/2021

Author Arra Lynn Ross reminisces on the inspiration for the cover of her forthcoming collection, Day of the Child .