Friday, April 14, 2017

How To Write Your Child a Poem

It's an odd thing, when a feeling overtakes you. When an idea fills your head and you can't say no to it, but you have no gift, no talent, no experience, in the thing your heart pounds at you to do.

I want to write my child a poem. Something so different and away from the 50,000 essays I've written to him already. I want to write him a poem that he can hold in his hand and fold and unfold to read over again and then again while he one day rocks away in his chair, *this close* to almost forgetting what his mother used to look like.

My first attempts late last night were of lines that rhymed.

You are my sun
When you're with me
we laugh, there is fun

You can say this is bad, because it's... bad.

You can also watch me delete and delete the words I set down, and then watch me, more determined than ever, to tell my son what it's meant to me to have spent his childhood with him.

Do I begin by confessing my regret that I didn't write down every bit of dialogue we shared?
Would he understand what I mean when I tell him that I'd give up just about anything for a slow afternoon watching him crawl on a blanket in the yard again?
Or how I had to cover my mouth, so taken with him at 11 months old, when he reached up from my lap and tried to hold my eye in his hand.

I try to remember our first memories together and I can't focus, because images fly faster than words, and all I see is toothless grins, drooling smiles, eyes that stare without blinking into mine, and his little hand, opening and closing as he reaches for my cheek.

I close my eyes, and push for words that match the lump that grows in my throat when I see his beautiful face in front of me.

I sit to write and one word surfaces first, again and again.

heart heart heart heart heart

Tonight, I decide that me writing a poem would never be able to explain the love I have for him. I just don't have that capacity.

What is the result of tonight's work is instead, a map.

A map with him at the center and the roads that all lead back to him.

How do you write your child a poem?

You draw him your heart.
* * *

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