Two poems in homage to Robert Coles

by Robert Cotner

There Is But One Child

—For the children of The Midwest Buddhist Temple, Chicago

There is but one child,
and he is all of you.

There is but one child,
and she is all children—
     in the city,
     in the nation,
     in the world.

There is but one child,
since the first child was born,
until the last shall pass away.

When that child is happy, the world rejoices,
in laughter, lightness, expectation;

When that child is injured,
you suffer;

When that child is abused,
all children are hurt;

When that child is killed,
hope for humankind lies murdered.

There is but one child;
therefore, be kind to yourself;
understanding of others;
vigilant for the welfare of all.

When you are parent, rearing your own child,
know that there is but one child;
that child is yours,
and all the world’s children depend upon you.

First Grandchild

—For Drake

Genes packed in a small satchel,
you are on your way,
our petite emissary of love,
assigned to establish
a base camp against despair.
Go forth in peace
to explore your era—
to begin the world anew—
in our name,
Little Pilgrim.

Robert Coles

Robert Coles with an Indian child in 1992. (From the Robert Coles’ website.)

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