Lauren Kaushansky

Installing Screens, Everywhere

Beyond the silver mesh
of our household screens
I see our backyard for the first time.
This fine autumn landscape divided into a grid
that a woman versed in Victorian needlepoint
could sew together in stitches so tight,
the smallest insects couldn't penetrate.
No hornets, no mosquitoes, no aphids.
And so we think, these screens will keep us safe
from things we can barely see,
or things we think we know
and every night, my daughter fears a tear
as I shut her door, shut her out
of the precious time I have left
and leave her in her own room, her own darkness.
She begs for those safety screens
only Mom and Dad can give. Night after night,
rituals of insistent questions,
requests of water and furry animals.
Sometimes the gaps so large
only stubbornness and pity can endure.
Every night we redefine "tucking in".
Every night she yields to the safety
of pink roses on flannel, not completely convinced
but reminded, bravery starts small and dark.

Copyright 1992, Lauren Kaushansky

Lauren Kaushansky teaches creative writing, art, and drama in Seattle.
"Installing Screens, Everywhere" was first published in California State
Poetry Quarterly,
Vol. 19, Num. 3, Summer 1992. Her poems have been
published in numerous other journals, including Seattle Review, Spindrift
and Arnazella, and her plays have been produced in Northwest youth
theaters and schools.