Maturity, belonging and being needed and useful are themes in this poem. Who is the underdog and who is the over dog in your relationships? So much can happen in a few minutes over breakfast. The poem is funny as well.
Muck-Clump Mark Halliday
My wife was being too busy around the kitchen one morning
I think to give herself the sense of being on top of things
and when I poured a bowl of Shredded Wheat Spoonfuls for Devon
my wife bustled over and said “Oh Devon likes to have more cereal
so she poured more Spoonfuls on top of the considerable number I
This griped me because now it was as if I hadn’t really given Devon
because it might as well have been my wife who did it all
which would imply that I wasn’t really making a contribution,
as if I were just a log of driftwood on the sand of time
while everyone else built the boats and caught the fish
and made the whole human drama fare forward against the void.
So I watched Devon pour a lot of milk on her Shredded Spoonfuls
and I figured she would hardly eat half of them
and when she went out to the school bus there would be
this awful soggy mass of decomposing cereal left behind
which would resemble the way I sometimes see myself
so I figured then I could show the bowl to my wife
and I’d say ”Do you think Devon got enough cereal?”
and the moment of sarcasm would be exquisite.
While Devon ate Spoonfuls I tied her shoes—I did accomplish that—
and I imagined how I would say with measured irony
that would sting slightly but also come across as witty—
Do you think Devon got enough cereal?”—I would say it
and then more vigorously dump the sodden milky muck-clump into the trash.
It would be a moment in which I would be quite noticeably
on top of things… Then the bus came
and Devon hoisted her backpack and hurried outside, calling Goodbye,
and I saw with astonishment that her cereal bowl was empty.
How was I going to deal with this? It wouldn’t be fair
to be angry at Devon for her unreasonable appetite; but
I could possibly complain about my wife’s failure to provide
a more balanced breakfast for our daughter—but I sensed
that his challenge would backfire because my wife is the one
who really does think about nutrition and besides there were, actually
some strawberries on Devon’s placemat.
So I decided to rise above the entire episode, to be large minded,
to wash a few dishes nonchalantly and read the newspaper
and make an insightful remark about something in the news.
Awareness of the larger world, after all, is
a central part of being mature, which is
something I want to believe I am—
when you see some old chunk of driftwood on the beach
you might say “That looks so calm, so peaceful”
or you might say “That is so dry and dead”
but you don’t say “That is really mature.”