Poem to My Child,
If Ever You Shall Be

after Steve Scafidi

The way the universe sat waiting to become,
quietly, in the nether of space and time,

you too remain some cellular snuggle
dangling between my legs, curled in the warm


swim of my mostly quietest self. If you come to be—
And who knows?—I wonder, little bubble


of unbudded capillaries, little one ever aswirl
in my vascular galaxies, what would you think


of this world which turns itself steadily
into an oblivion that hurts, and hurts bad?


Would you curse me my careless caressing you
into this world or would you rise up


and, mustering all your strength into that tiny throat
which one day, no doubt, would grow big and strong,


scream and scream and scream until you break the back of one
    injustice,
or at least get to your knees to kiss back to life


some roadkill? I have so many questions for you,
for you are closer to me than anyone


has ever been, tumbling, as you are, this second,
through my heart’s every chamber, your teeny mouth


singing along with the half-broke workhorse’s steady boom and
    gasp.
And since we’re talking today I should tell you,


though I know you sneak a peek sometimes
through your father’s eyes, it’s a glorious day,


and there are millions of leaves collecting against the curbs,
and they’re the most delicate shade of gold


we’ve ever seen and must favor the transparent
wings of the angels you’re swimming with, little angel.


And as to your mother—well, I don’t know—
but my guess is that lilac bursts from her throat


and she is both honeybee and wasp and some kind of moan to
    boot
and probably she dances in the morning—


but who knows? You’ll swim beneath that bridge if it comes.
For now let me tell you about the bush called honeysuckle


that the sad call a weed, and how you could push your little
sun-licked face into the throngs and breathe and breathe.


Sweetness would be your name, and you would wonder why
four of your teeth are so sharp, and the tiny mountain range


of your knuckles so hard. And you would throw back your head
and open your mouth at the cows lowing their human songs


in the field, and the pigs swimming in shit and clover,
and everything on this earth, little dreamer, little dreamer


of the new world, holy, every rain drop and sand grain and blade
of grass worthy of gasp and joy and love, tiny shaman,


tiny blood thrust, tiny trillion cells trilling and trilling,
little dreamer, little hard hat, little heartbeat,


little best of me.


From Bringing the Shovel Down by Ross Gay, © 2011. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.


Read on . . .

I Carried My Father Across the Sea,” poetry by
Gbenga Adesina


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