Her Sweet Baby Girl

She is floating, feeling on top of the world,
because their twenty-five-year-old daughter -
still considered to be her sweet baby girl -
is in town to visit both family and friend.

“Get out the finest china! We must slaughter
the fatted calf. Let the festivities now begin.”
But her husband warns, “ Don’t overreact.
You must not forget that we have a pact.”

Their daughter had always been a problem child,
then into heavy drug use, a college and job dropout.
Many times she’d broken their hearts, all the while
promising to reform -- which she meant, no doubt.

Finally, they had agreed that ‘tough love’ was the way,
telling her she was on her own, no longer would they pay.
She’d moved away, now returning after absence of a year.
“She sounded so good on the phone. I’m sure she’s okay.”

Dinner is planned at six. She’s to come to visit at four.
Her mother anxiously awaits, pacing, pacing the floor.
Four o’clock passes. By five the mother waits at the door.
“I must prepare dinner. We won’t have long to visit I fear.”

All of her daughter’s favorites are lovingly cooked and ready.
At seven her husband says, “We might as well eat. My fears
were realized.” They eat in silence, their gaze fixed and steady.
Later, washing the dishes, into the dishwater pour her tears…

Harry Edward Gilleland      07.28.03