Claudia Gary

What can go wrong if Mama, a fine artist,
cuddles you in her lap, places a crayon
in your right hand, then takes your hand in hers
and draws a line with you? What can go wrong?

The crayon breaks, but you can choose another.
The paper tears, but she can turn the page.
The table wobbles, but here is a fold
of cardboard to put under one of its legs.

The dog is howling at a fire engine—
another mimic in the house. And next
some watercolour. This is fun. The dish
of water spills. She mops it up. You take

the brush in your hand now, all by yourself,
and your brushstroke resembles hers. A gift,
an artist for a mother. What can go wrong?
Your Mama wonders how long this can last

before she breaks. When she was a young girl,
her own mother would often slap her face
in front of all her cousins. But for now
she takes your hand, guides it across the paper.

What can go wrong?