Perfect Hearts...A poem on broken hearts and a child's need for love
©Nancy L. Meek, May 11, 2003
Cross-legged on the floor
you sat beside my chair
bent over a wrinkled, jelly-smudged sheet of paper
trying your four-year-old best
to draw a perfect heart, a first for you
as any toddler would want,
when attempting to show his mother
how much she is loved,
It had to be perfect
I saw your determination
the way you slid your tongue
slowly across your bottom lip
as if it would help that fat pencil
in your stubby little fingers
create the still elusive shape
I could see your frustration
as you messed up
as you slammed your pencil down
as if you were an expert on hearts
It was a first for me
trying to help you see
not everyone gets it right the first time,
not even I
You gazed up at me with sudden awe
No, I didn't
but I learned.
Would you care for me to show you how?
In desperation, you nodded
wanting so badly to learn how
to say I love you in some tangible way
Putting emotions down on paper
must run in the family, I mused.
So, with his pencil in my expert hands,
First, you make a perfect "V", like this.
I haven't seen my mommy in a real long time.
Yes, I know.
Then, you connect the tops of the "V"
with two humps, or half circles, like this.
See, they look like two "C"s turned sideways.
Do you think she has moved away?
I'm not really sure. Maybe.
There! That's all there is to it!
Here's your pencil back. Now, you try it!
My daddy says she loved me enough
to move away
so I could have a good life.
I think your daddy might be right.
Now, let me see you make one.
I know you can do it.
Here, you can look at mine
if that will help.
Trying to hold back the tears,
I kissed you gently on the forehead
then whispered, I love you
the world's next Picasso,
created your perfect heart
first the perfect "V"...at least to me
a toddler's version of two sideways "C"s
Oh, my dear!
Do you realize what you have done?!
No......what? you asked, concerned
believing you had messed up again.
You, my dear, have drawn a perfect heart!
Yes, and it is the most beautiful heart
I have ever seen!
Yes, it most certainly is!
I couldn't have done better myself!
I could see the relief in your eyes
I love you! Thank you!
No! Thank you!
Do you know what I would like to do
to celebrate this special event?
I would like
to put this on the door of the refrigerator
so that every time I walk by and see it
I can remember how much love
you put into making a perfect heart.
Yes, really. Would that make you happy?
In answer, you threw your arms
around my fifty-year-old concerned neck
squeezing me as tight
as a four-year-old can squeeze
then kissed me on the cheek
I looked up with a prayer
don't let him see my tears
don't let him sense the pain
at least for a little while
while his heart is yet perfect
and his mother
is out there somewhere
learning how to break it.