How is a teenage son like a poem?
He is long and gangly but his stanzas
are rather even. His hair is perfectly
combed, and his scant words fit him
like a glove. He is one moment super bebop
cool and then hot like a pepper. He enjoys
the look on his own face, especially
when distorted in a maniacal grin.
Like a good poem, he imagines himself
a gangster, a troubadour, a bow and arrow.
He would steal your heart if you let him in
and bring it back, maybe next Tuesday,
if it suits his iambic pentameter. He ignores
niceties such as towel racks, trash cans,
and the call of civil conversation. He speaks
in monosyllabic haiku and will eat donut holes
all day if you let him; he will think of countless
words that rhyme with donut hole.
He picks at his forehead like adolescent poems
have done in secret since the Romantic era.
He is no stranger to comedy or tragedy.
Any resemblance to a poem, you say, is purely
accidental. And yet, he has this way
of yowling his hello on the telephone,
then offers a blank stare that clouds his face
when you ask for the details of his day.
Show, don’t tell, he seems to say. Leave me
alone, to my own devices, just like you did
when you made me, when you knit me
in the darkness of the rocking chair with dad.
I say, when I made you, I had no idea what I
was doing; did not even know the first thing
about making a poem, let alone, a son.