Conversation with my son

At the sink he perches
atop his two-stepped seat to watch
a morning routine that's utter
prose for me, discovery for him:
how I wet
the shaving brush, lather soap,
then smooth the jawline
of my beard, and how
I brush my teeth without
protest, without needing
to eat the toothpaste with each brush.
And then how I open
the mirrored cabinet and take
my pill-cutter, split
Escitalopram in two, and scoop
water into my mouth to swallow.
"What will you swallow, Dad?"
How to answer?
"Medicine," I say, "to help
the chemicals in my brain."
"Maybe," he says, "when I am bigger,
I will take some medicine too."
Oh my love. "I hope not,"
is all I can say,
"because then you won't have
the sickness I have."
And as talk turns to other
two-year-old things,
my father heart churns
with the weight of this,
while pandemic and cabin fever
test the power of the pills, the rage
of being Dad drives the nerves
that splash water on my morning face.

You Will Not Fear

Hiding within my son's clothes,
it lay unseen until bedtime when
it scurried out from his sleeve, explaining
his tears through dinner and
the nick on his wrist spotted
only moments before.

It was not the night to visit Emergency.
Wind and rain buffeted the drive, as
unidentified spider in jar beside me,
I punctuated my frantic breaths with
comma prayers and apostrophe thoughts
of the worst that could happen
in a waiting room at night.


Arriving to warnings plastered on doors,
I tried not to gawk at the three who were kept
behind a sealed door, faces masked,
breathing an obvious chore.
And while we waited, my son
calm, no swelling, spider determined
to see out the night, I pondered
risking it and going home,
but stayed instead, and tried to love
my neighbour from a distance,
sharing smiles that said,
"We're in this together," while mind returned
again, again to the microbes that may,
may not circle the air, and tried not to fear
the pestilence stalking the night, or the day
that I may become one others fear.

The first day of spring

began with honeysuckle and clover,
the constants of the winter yet
rendered more redolent by the scents of September
and a bee buzzing about a flowering cactus

and ended with a downpour
that sent me rushing to the clothesline
while my son stood in his raincoat and listened
to the rain

with all things – rain, sun, bee,
child and flowers – held in the same sentence
and each given its time.

Noah’s Ark: For Eli

I.
Delighted by animals, God and rain,
my son finds kinship in Noah’s ark,
commentating the story as I leaf through his Bible:
“Rain! Giraffe. Boat. Noah. Wet. Monkeys!”
How to convey what
a rainbow’s about, or how I long
for him and his brothers to be
kept safe in the ark
as the flood passes by.

II.
After the night’s deluge, I spot
a raven atop a traffic light,
tree-branch in beak,
heralding the hope of dry land.
The lights change, I drive ahead.
No flood will overwhelm today.

III.
This afternoon he found
some joyfully fluffy infant ducks
in a book and, excited, pointed them out:
“Clucklings!” he exclaimed, and how I wished
that our language could change
to make them be clucklings forever.

IV.
Reading a story of sloths, I asked,
“Do you think there were sloths in Noah’s ark?”
While he gave this all his toddler’s thought,
I amused myself with images of
the haste with which Noah packed the ark
the sloths sabotaging all his speed,
yet saved, thank God, all the same.

Sabbath

This afternoon, though I’d planned
a much-needed rest, many tasks overtook and
somewhere amidst assembling IKEA furniture I found
the afternoon gone and dusk charcoaling the sky,
so instead I walked
my toddler to the compost heap and there
we shredded paper scraps to balance the mix
and pulled weeds from the side garden while
my son trialled his latest words and declared “I want!”
as the evening air bristled and my fingers let go.