Soft Brown Shirt

In a recent post on attachment parenting I offered the notion of “containment parenting,” as a middle ground, at least in terms of verbiage, between “attachment” (which perhaps, to some, sounds a bit too involved, fussy or enmeshed) and some abstract opposite, such as “non-attachment” (which might sound good if you’re hanging with Thich Nhat Hahn, but not with an infant).  A reader inquired if I could say more about “containment parenting,” and while I could suggest an old post on the colander and the bowl, a poem made its way into my head.  At least it’s easier reading than my typical post 🙂 …


I fell in love with a

Brown-eyed girl

Who had a brown shirt

In New York city


I saw that same shirt

In a Soho shop,

Soft brown cotton on Sullivan

Street.  It was dear indeed


But I wanted to be just

Like her.  Cotton as soft

As her lover’s touch,

And I wore it until


It fell apart.  And we were

Left to love without shirts

On our backs until children

Held on tight:  monkey arms,

Piggy rides and broken banks


Parenting soft like that brown

Shirt.  Softly holding until

A butterfly drifts up and away

From your sun-warmed hands

Off to explore the garden

And back again for snacks


Her eyes sparkled brown except

When enraged.  Then they flashed

Green at the bars of her cage

Until they were mirrors

And the world and the stage

And we all loved each other

so much that we sometimes wept


And on that note I close 2010—wishing all those who happen across these words Brightness, Good Cheer, freedom from fear, the realization that true desires are already fulfilled, All Good Wishes and, most of all, Love.

Namaste, BD


16 Responses to “Soft Brown Shirt”

  1. Katrina Kenison Says:

    Bruce, Your blog is like a drink of cold, clear water. It always satisfies a thirst I don’t even know I have — until I come here, and read your words, and feel nourished and uplifted. Thank you for the time and thought you put into your posts, for so generously giving away your hard-won wisdom and for opening your heart. You make us all better parents and better people, and you inspire me to be a better writer. Wishing you and yours all good things in 2011.

  2. Molly@Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce Says:

    I love this poem, Bruce, especially the stanza.

    Softly holding until

    A butterfly drifts up and away

    From your sun-warmed hands

    Off to explore the garden

    And back again for snacks

    My parents raised me like that and I think I am doing the same for my kids. My six year old daughter recently started crying thinking about the idea that she would grow up and have to move away from me. I told her that she could stay with me for as long as she’d like to and that my home would always have a place for her in it, just like my parents’ home does. My two kids and I are currently spending two weeks with them now.

    Happy New Year! Molly

  3. Laurie Says:

    Beautiful. The time to count blessings and you dear Bruce are one. A happy New Year to you and your family. xx

  4. Amber Says:

    Softly caring for children is the best description I have heard. A lovely poem, Bruce, and a Happy New Year’s to you and your family.

  5. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. Just the right touch for entering into a new year, and all the parenting “softness” we can muster, inside and outside of our cages.

    A wonderful 2011 to you and your family, Bruce.

  6. walkingonmyhands Says:

    What a beautiful poem! Thank you again for the reminder to slow down and enjoy the butterflies (and snacks!).

    Happy New Year!

    Peace and Namaste,

  7. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    With all best wishes for love, peace, health, and soft brown shirts in 2011 and with thanks for friendship and fellowship in 2010 to you, Andy, and the boys.

  8. rudrip Says:

    Lovely poem and sentiment Bruce. Here’s to you and yours in 2011. Wishing you peace.

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