As We Watch MacNeil-Lehrer

Janet, our nine year old daughter,
who voted for George Bush
in her fourth-grade mock-election,
expresses her dissatisfaction
with Clinton's first executive order,
restoring public funding for abortion.

"It's stupid," she declares.
"If people would just wear condoms
they wouldn't have to have abortions.
It's not fair to kill babies."

While Gergen & Shields probe the issue,
we do some probing of our own
but discover only the sketchiest
conception of what a condom is
and how, where and by whom
the magic garment is "worn.."
Her mother and I fill-in-the-dots
and try to draw a distinction between
infants and fetuses.

We do not tell her that Stephanie,
the teenage babysitter she adores
who has access not only to condoms
but to jelly, foam and something called
"the pill"had an abortion last summer
and is scared she may be pregnant again.

On technically firmer ground now,
knowing that a condom
is something like a balloon
that a man puts over his penis
to keep something called sperm
from reaching something called
an ovum, she hardens her position:
"All men should be forced to wear them."

My wife and I glance at each other,
remembering our own neglect,
ten years ago, by the fire
and all that it has brought us.



Poems by David Alpaugh:

A California Ad Man Celebrates His Art
The Young
The Man Who Loves Better Homes & Gardens
Hunger Artists
Impromptu Meeting in the Falklands
As We Watch McNeil-Lehrer
Electronic Epitaph

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets