As a young man I fancied myself a bit of a poet, and in college I wrote quite a bit – some acceptable, most abysmal. I’ve pretty much given up on any poetic aspirations, but I will still grind something out for a special occasion. I wrote this poem for my elder son’s second birthday.
Some of the references are pretty culturally specific, and it does only what I meant it to do – give a snapshot of a particular moment in my son’s life. I hope you like it.
From the far room
where his toys – typical for boys,
T-rex, animals, many wheeled things –
lie unused til morning
or maybe tomorrow
or three days’ time
(his whims and choices change)
he calls for his mommy, or nanny
if all else fails
I grope through the morning-hued hall,
past the fish tank and the playthings,
the fallen cars crashed before bedtime,
and his simple day begins,
much like, but not like,
He is the brightest child I know.
Brachiosaurus, archerfish, baleen,
drop easily off his little darting tongue.
He is still learning
please and thank you.
He is becoming bossy, defiant -
Daddy, go ‘way
Mommy, come he-ah,
and why not –
he eats what he is given,
tucked into bed when we decree,
is taken here or there without consultation;
small rebellions keep him sane,
let him command a tiny corner
of a world beyond his control.
He is ticklish and so frequently tortured.
He is clever and so frequently tested.
What’s this? Tri lo bite!
What’s this? Hip po thomas!
He is a water baby,
a slippery duck, a blue beluga,
a dolphin leaping and whale breaching
to crash down with a mighty splash.
We sing in the bath,
Big barracuda, big barracuda,
Like in movie, he says,
Yes, like in the movie.
Our bed is a boat where he watches the sea,
our blanket-draped chairs a time machine.
We scamper out to visit Jurassic glades
where yellow triceratops mingle
with yellow race cars,
moose stories –
mommy moose, daddy moose, and little baby…
George! he squeals –
turn into scuba expeditions
and clownfish chat with porcupines,
a world with breathable, breakable borders,
a universe of imagination we
have long since learned to slice and sequester,
a gift we lost ages ago.
His eyes gaze into the middle distance
and into his vision ride red race cars,
Doc turning in the dirt,
a million images spinning out
in spools of possibility,
limitless, illuminated by distant suns,
expanding at infinite rate into each new
region of thought, experience,
synapses snapping to life
in the sweep of a smile,
the curvature of syllables.
He will toddle his wavering way
into everything we fear and love and loathe,
but although all the missteps, tumbles, stumbles,
the vagaries of time and the victims of chance
stand waiting outside the door this day,
he will look up from his birthday cake
gauging his chances,
weighing his options,
assessing the probabilities,
inspecting the opportunities,
appraising the angles,
More gummies, please?