The Lock







The Lock

Every evening I brush one damp curl from my baby’s forehead
And in its place leave a long, mama kiss

My sweet strawberry of a boy is heavy now–
All cheeks, tummy, and leg rolls
To me, though, he is still tiny

A little lump laying under white sheets and grey cotton blanket


His fingers rise up to his displaced curl
Thumb and forefinger searching for that precious peach lock

And then they twirl
Root to end…
Root to end…

A ritual performed since babehood, sucking at my breast


I watch, waiting for the next step in our little dance

Then it’s his turn to wait
For me to shake my head and whisper
‘Daddy is at church.’

He knows the routine by heart


My strawberry boy is still small enough that our family nights
Spent reciting our theme–

         Do all the Good you can
         In all the Ways you can
         To all the People you can

–Words meant to soothe the hearts of our children in the absence of their father–
Are a jumble of nonsense to him
Who needs a theme when you can have a daddy?

He sighs, debating whether to go on


The choreography is rote and he dutifully moves forward

The next step is mine
I’m supposed to say something about Jesus
But I stumble

I am tired–and hurt


Jesus listened and wept with the woman
Jesus comforted and healed the outcast

Telling my boy that his daddy has gone to church to help Jesus feels like a half truth
When the church his daddy serves builds idols on top of the pain
Of the lost sheep Jesus sought

‘I don’t know.’


It is all I have to give
A worthless, heartbroken utterance

But my strawberry boy nods
Perhaps grateful for an honest change in our routine
And turns to lay on his side, finger still twirling his favorite lock

Root to end…



  1. “When the church his daddy serves builds idols on top of the pain Of the lost sheep Jesus sought.”

    Please tell, what did you mean? This turn of phrase seems key to the perspective of the Mother, while the child’s feelings are more clear.

    Beautiful poem. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Richard_K! That is an interesting phrase that you highlight–to me it speaks to the conflict and apathy the Mother feels as she watches her husband and father of her children serve as the bishop of their ward. She can see the very real good he is doing and she knows he is being a disciple of Jesus Christ as he serves in this calling. At the same time, his service doesn’t happen in a vacuum–by being bishop, her husband is supporting a broader church that she feels hurts people, particularly vulnerable people. That is an exhausting place to be and adds to the already heavy burden it is to be the family of the bishop.

  2. This is stunning, MRAYNES.

    For me, I felt in your words some of the pains of being a single parent– even when we are married– because our husbands are gone so much.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Beautiful poem. This mother’s pain is tangibly expressed through your words and the images created through the baby’s nightly ritual.

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