A Sonnet for My Nephew

Your mother held you first, and then your dad,
And after that, the nurse. But then: your aunt.
You curled inside my arms—such a small lad—
My heart was yours right then. You did enchant

Me so, and I knew then that you and me
would make such mischief that your parents would
just give us that fond look and then agree
to simply answer us with, “Yes, that’s good,”

and let us carry on with our small crimes.
And so like this, you started out your life,
With ABCs, and songs, and lilting rhymes—
But they did not prepare us for the strife

To come ahead. You struggle just to stand,
But know this—I will always hold your hand.



Caitlin O’Brien received her Bachelor of Arts with a focus in Creative Writing from the University of Rochester in 2011. She then went on to earn her Master’s degree at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. She is currently a high school literature teacher and resides in Naples, Florida. You can follow her on Instagram at @cpob1988.

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5 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    To encapsulate so much story and authentic emotion in such a relatively short poem is truly awesome.

    A suggestion. How about ‘a tiny lad’ instead of ‘such a small lad’, especially since ‘small’ is used later on? By the way, I thought ‘small crimes’ was brilliant term at conveying a loving, but almost subversive aunt-nephew relationship.

    Thanks for the read, Caitlin.

  2. C.B. Anderson

    I’ve always approved of mischief, and I have only good things to say about your poem.

  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Caitlin, you capture the wonder of being a doting aunt to a nephew who has one’s heart brimming with love. I can relate to every beautiful word, and I can feel my nephew’s hand in mine as I contemplate each lovely line… nephews always need an aunt like you.

  4. Stuti

    I love how you’ve captured the aunt-nephew bond in this piece with the mischief & lilting rhymes and the weave of emotions through it all. I particularly enjoyed the closing of this piece – “…..I will always hold your hand”. It is vivid in its imagery as you painted in the previous line, the image of a little toddler struggling to find his balance but that line is layered with so many emotions and a promise for the future as well. Thank you for the read.


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