Poem to the Child Who Was Almost My Son

Foot 4
By John Brantingham

Today I will tell you the stories that I have kept to myself on purpose. I will tell you of the day I hiked the mountain by myself, and I veered off the path and climbed straight up to the crest. There was a clearing in the trees and wild rose bushes growing up in the sun. The afternoon warmth and smell of pine drowsed me, so I lay down and drifted off, only to wake up to nap amnesia and a world of roses before me. And I will tell you about the time I opened the scar on my leg, climbing a fence in the September Santa Ana heat. I sat down in the weeds of a vacant lot and watched the line of red form and drip and pool, and I smiled to see it, but I don’t know why, and I didn’t know then. I will tell you all the stories that I never meant to tell anyone, the stories that were so precious I kept them hidden. I will tell them to you now because your other father, the man you will always know as father, the man who will give you everything else, cannot give these to you, and I will give them to no one else but you. So I will give you the day when I wandered outside alone at night for the first time in my young life, and I bent my neck back, and I became an astronomer, and I will give you the moment I crushed the bones in my arm in frustration and horror, and I will give you the moment I felt you move inside your mother, and I was sure you would be my son forever.

Originally as “Poem to the Child Whom I Almost Adopted,” in Serving House Journal.


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