On Having Children
What I don’t want? I think I know:
I don’t want to become tenuous again, right when
I’d gotten things down, when I could ride
the highway without turning into a bag of bones, right
when I could catapult at 40,000 feet without
incinerating and could look at the woman in the first seat
of the plane bounce up to shuffle her bags and say to myself
she knows she’ll never die, what children she’ll have—
But, I don’t want a world of ladders, of high windows,
of a pill I dropped. Of our need. Our desire for silence. For clean
and hard concrete and adult television. Yet, here I am
with my sister and her infant on linoleum in her
house of dangers and she is the calmest I’ve ever seen anyone—
what it must be to know your body did more than simply survive.
We are dressing up baby, decorating baby’s crown with candy—
children in a game we’ve made from found objects,
plotting, you be the this and I’ll be the that and we’ll roll for who
shoves all the pieces back into the box. What do we win? Here,
with her newborn murmuring beside the clawfoot tub, she says
if anything ever happens to me, and I won’t even let her say it.
There is a second on the night bus from here to there
when you are released from your life and
become a gum in the soft mouth of a small,
yellow light. In life, you have failed and
thank the gods, the big gods, you have because
now you are a kernel, a single woo of wind,
a tender needle, a knot in the net;
you are a satin-lined death. You are all of
the love anyone could ever need, and your life, in all of
the ways it is wrong for you, is out there like the terminal:
tiled, fluorescent, entropic. Necessitous and starved,
it is for you who always returns.
In the mine of your head a canary descends
and you send another after it and so on.
If I didn’t intimately understand, I’d shake
you awake, say to you: someday your body
will be as broad as a god’s and
I’ll have hair so thick and long
I won’t know what to do with it.