Visitation by Sean Kelbley


Damon’s day is going great,
by which I mean he wouldn’t join
at carpet for the read-aloud or math

but didn’t bolt the room, throw scissors,
rip up anybody’s work. No one got choked
or punched or kicked at morning recess.

I’m his reward. Me and my sand tray,
fidgets, Thera-Doh. Me with no other kids.
He likes my sound machine—the white noise

best. He likes to poke through all my “Pop Its.”
He doesn’t like to turn my timer to ten minutes
but it’s public school, so he can’t ever get

his own all-day adult. Best I can do is try
to set a clock in him that’s not a bomb.
This be poison hot dog, make you sick

he says. But pulls the ends around, transforms
the fat blue cylinder of putty into circle.
This pill make you better. He raises it

toward my mouth and I pretend to take a bite.
He lifts it higher, just above his head. The vessel
of his body shines and warns: so many things

can happen next. I did a miracle, he says,
and this my Angel Hat. Locks eyes with mine
and waits for me to wrestle, or believe.


Sean Kelbley lives with his husband on a former state experimental farm in Appalachian southeastern Ohio, in a house they built together. He works as a primary school counselor. Sean’s poetry has appeared in RATTLE, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Still: The Journal, Sugar House Review, and other wonderful places including anthologies, nature trails, and high school marching band competition shows.

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