“You want to be ‘different’ | You don’t want to feel | How much you love this life” ~ Susan Cataldo, from “My Son”

Vilhelm Hammershoi Interior with Young Man Reading 1898

“Interior with Young Man Reading” (1898, oil on canvas)
by Vilhelm Hammershøi


“. . . It seems
no time since I would help him to put on his sleeper,
guide his calves into the gold interior,
zip him up and toss him up and
catch his weight. I cannot imagine him
no longer a child” ~ Sharon Olds, from “My Son the Man”

Hallelujah!  Brett passed his driving test. He is officially legal to drive . . . anywhere his heart desires . . .

Hallelujah— a little less exuberantly . . . yet another line severed . . .

Hello, small boy no longer . . .

Hell.

Music by Jorge Calderon, “Keep Me in Your Heart” (a really nice cover of Warren Zevon’s song)

Note: I’m including a poem I may have featured before, but “The Olive Wood Fire” by Galway Kinnell is one of my life-long favorites.

                   

The Olive Wood Fire

When Fergus woke crying at night
I would carry him from his crib
to the rocking chair and sit holding him
before the fire of thousand-year-old olive wood,
which it took a quarter-hour of matches
and kindling to get burning right. Sometimes
—for reasons I never knew and he has forgotten—
even after his bottle the big tears
would keep on rolling down his big cheeks
—the left cheek always more brilliant than the right—
and we would sit, some nights for hours,
rocking in the almost lightless light
eking itself out of the ancient wood,
and hold each other against the darkness,
his close behind and far away in the future,
mine I imagined all around.
One such time, fallen half-asleep myself,
I thought I heard a scream
—a flier crying out in horror
as he dropped fire on he didn’t know what or whom,
or else a child thus set aflame—
and set up alert. The olive wood fire
had burned low. In my arms lay Fergus,
fast asleep, left check glowing, God.

~ Galway Kinnell

                   

My Son

I love this messy room you live in
The plants you care for
The nickels & dimes & pennies you pile
Up on your desk like no-good money
The Amazing Spiderman poster on the wall

Tapes paint comic books biographies
Of all you favorite presidents
A picture of the Lincoln Memorial
On the wall facing your bed
An eleven year old dusty red TV

Daphne turning into a tree
Two autographed photographs of
Leonard Nimoy. Dracula.
A cross made of branches
Held together by a rubber band

You love daisies
& keep them alive until
Every bud has blossomed
You are interested in
What everyone is doing

You think of new things for them
To do you make them heroes
In your fantastic head
You look strong & handsome
But you don’t see that

You want to defend helpless people
You want to know why there aren’t
Really super heroes
You ask the same questions
I ask myself & can’t answer

You don’t understand jokes
You think they hurt
You are constantly dodging
Bullets & dreaming up new
Ways to defend yourself

You are stubborn to a fault
A fortress of mind & chest
Eyes never more mirrored
The soul than your
You deny love

~ Susan Cataldo

                   

To a Young Son

Today I passed your room
and you were slowly quietly
combing your hair.
It was a pleasant, calm moment.
I felt the silence of the room
and could almost hear you growing.
You combed without a mirror,
your eyes distant and pale,
your head slowly nodding
like the head of a stroked animal.

Xerxes the King sent out a spy
who returned to camp, astonished to say
that the Spartans were all stripped to the waist
their bodies gleaming in the Aegean sun
and they were all carefully combing their hair.
The king was afraid then.
The Spartans were preparing to die.

I turn slowly from your doorway
and return to the linen closet where I
will fold this memory in my heart
among everything that is clean and fresh and white.

~ June Robertson Beisch

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