As early risers, sometimes we glimpse
in the dawn light the three children
who seven days a week bring us
our newspaper. Three girls, the oldest ten,
all wrapped in responsibility.
We hear mommy sews. They wear pastel
polartec bunny-earred hats
around such earnest faces.
Especially the oldest,
a blue-eyed entrepreneur
and surrogate mother of six siblings.
Her voice, one of authority in the lower
register, a forthrightness that can
only come from that variety of pride
that grows in families made large
for religious reasons.
In our vestibule we detain the sisters
as we write out a check
and figure in a tip. They answer all questions.
“Mommy’s expecting again,” they offer.
Father sometimes pulls the youngest
in a sturdy green plastic wagon these
duty-filled mornings, while the other two
struggle with sacks across flimsy shoulders
as they criss-cross our darkened street
thrusting the morning chronicle into
metal news boxes as if shoving fists and arms
into coat sleeves.
Since September 11th, I’ve walked out the front door
to retrieve the paper and carried it inside
with nary a glance at the headlines.
Breakfast has to come first, before the details
of a world gone mad. News can curdle even coffee.
Borders have dissolved. The latitude and longitude
of international worries make up a new map. I wish
I could carry the paper as jauntily as they.
I can’t hold Montana newspaper carriers
responsible for world events, can I ? They’ll
always come collecting and leave with a smile.
Whatever war we’re waging, the young
deliverers seem never to apologize for bringing
disasters right up on to our property.