This is what happens when I’m in revision mode–my excess creative juices have to spill out somewhere, and right now, that means poetry. But it should stop soon, since I’ve just finished up a batch of nit-picking revisions on the novel and will be heading back to the chapter-creation trenches. Wish me luck. Also, read my poem. You know, if you want to.
Those of Us Who Want Things Too Badly
We’ve been lied to. Most little boys do not
become astronauts, nor little girls ballerinas.
Your astigmatism will keep you from space
travel, and after years of pirouetting en pointe,
you will get bunions, and your left thigh will
always be bigger than your right. That’s it. There
is no genie in the bottle. Your wishes will not
come true. The truth is those of us who want
things too badly are usually the ones who don’t
get them. The inexquisite letdown–the Christmas
afternoon anti-climax of dreams birthed at last
into reality–would kill us.
Here’s the other truth: my son’s father loved
another before he was the size of my fist. My
dead mother will never meet him, and my sisters
have so many children, they’ll hardly notice one
more. What I’m desperate for this child to know
before he’s even out of my body, but what I am
terrified to make him understand: nothing is ever
easy. Grief comes upon us the way my father or
one of his siblings would get the measles, mumps,
rubella, and then systematically infect the others
every time my grandfather deployed, leaving my
grandmother alone to heal the mess.
Or maybe, that’s not the truth. Maybe I’m not
having a son. Maybe his father is running late
or has yet to show up, and maybe my mother
is alive and well and proclaims she’s not even
thinking of grandkids at her age. Maybe I don’t
have any sisters, just one brother, who I gave
the chickenpox to when he was three. Night after
night, my father stayed up with him, watching
Fantasia well into dawn. My brother’s blistered
body lay limp in his lap, unyielding to calamine
and oatmeal baths, Mickey’s magic the only thing
that could quiet his pain.