Not Yet, Abby by Ann E. Wallace

Not Yet, Abby

When my youngest was just three,
or maybe four,
I took her to the dentist
one morning in early November.

As we left the house, she plucked
a bright red lollipop
from her bag of Halloween treats
and held it out, posing
a silent question.

You can’t eat that now, Abby,
I said as I lifted her into her car seat.
She held it tight
in her small fist as we drove
and left it safe in her cup holder
when we went inside
for the cleaning.

Back in the car,
she held up the candy,
Now, Mommy?

Not yet, Abby
I replied as we drove to her preschool.
I left her chattering with her friends
and headed to work.

At half past five, I rushed
back to the little school.
As I walked through the heavy front doors,
I saw she had been waiting.
She ran to me and held out
her tightly curled fist,
palm up.
She unrolled her fingers
to reveal her red lollipop,
still in its wrapper.
Now?

I laughed.
Yes, but first,
let’s put your coat on.

A decade later,
six weeks into a pandemic,
Abby quietly opened her bedroom window
and slipped outside
to sit in the afternoon sun,
perched in safety on her fire escape.

At thirteen, she already knew
the answer to the question
she had not bothered to ask—
Not yet, Abby.

by Ann E. Wallace

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Twitter: @annwlace409

Editor’s Note: The subtle difficulty of constraint in a global pandemic is beautifully illustrated in this narrative poem.

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