My son, as I hold you in my arms
I can’t stop my mind from considering
the issues of the day. But your
little body pulls me back; that thick
whiff of hair caught by the top
of your head, your eyes carving
the destiny of novelty onto every object.
Nevertheless, I wonder whether
these bloody thoughts will blow
a rancorous breeze through you.
And what kind of a man you’ll be—
not all white so I fear not alright.
Is it a grimace or a bullet hurtling
towards you through the dark, empty space
of America? I have waited to write
these lines until you were born, afraid
the pen would bleed you. Now you’re here,
screaming sometimes but mostly
attentive to mother’s milk; striving
with grabbing hands, face tilted upward.
Your sister is kissing you through
her bedroom wall, she presses her songs
against your forehead. We’re here forever
to mess up your plans (a true family).
At the park, my daughter climbs
to the top of the slide—
her teeth bared tenaciously
with something greater than will.
Her force of a face
pushes its way through; tiny hands
grip pieces of plastic,
boots find footholds as she scales
this pretend peak. On her back
I see lines of transformation,
like national borders imposing
a vision upon a continent.
When she reaches the top
I cheer her down the slide.
She tells herself, “good job”
and I laugh at the self-congratulation.
She climbs a few more times.
Skateboarders scrape words from pavement;
a basketball bounces, bounces,
clangs a giraffe off the rim,
and bounces again; dogs prance by,
pulling slavish owners by the leash.
What lasting mark will
any of us make with our little fists
clenched? There is no violence
like inertia. The sun finds a way
to break through the leaves,
catching me with a single ray.