Be prepared
For him to try to poke your eyes out
And smear his own shit across your cheek
Just hold him close against your chest, even as he squirms
And kiss him tenderly, on the forehead covered with oozing sores

Do not let her
Punch her rodent-eyed brother or
Pull the matted hair of the wailing girl in the corner
Over a shiny rock, or the choicest morsel of roasted rat flesh
But bring the dirty fingers with stained nails to your adoring lips without hesitation

Do not worry
About your freshly painted walls or clean white linens
Draw him a clear, steaming bath in an old iron tub
And wash his blemished body with a pock-marked yellow sponge
For his comfort alone

Do not let her stuff handfuls of old, stale candy
Between her cracked lips, to furtively gulp without chewing or tasting
But slowly place drops of your sweet nectar upon her swollen tongue
Framed by crooked and broken teeth

Rub his sore, bloated belly and stroke his lousy hair as he vomits the gray bile of undigested slug stew
Replace whatever tendrils of intestine have escaped
Through the gaping wound in his abdomen
Repairing the rent flesh with your love potion
And carry his frail body up into the slanting, golden sunlight

Do not let her kick or bite you,
Or trip the hollow-eyed boy with only one torn, blackened shoe
Rather massage her feet and caress her skinny bare legs with your warm, fragrant oil
And shine your steady, amber candlelight onto the slimy stone walls
Of her underground cavern

You can let him spit and stomp and gnash his teeth
While you stand unmoved
Watching with soft eyes and an unseen halo
And gently wrap the hand-knit scarf, in pastel hues of pink, blue, and yellow
Around his unwashed, flea-bitten neck
While you take his hand in yours