Jun 23
poem challenge: Writing 2022

My Son and Baby Birds

When my son asks for a BB gun for squirrels, I will hand him wildflower seeds and tell him that he will take care of the next baby bird that crashes into our window.

When that baby bird dies, because baby birds always do, I will kiss him and we will bury the body in an ornate carved wooden box, and he will never want for a BB gun again.

I will never let him cry without an embrace or climb a ladder without support, and when he hits people, I will cry. Because maybe I should have let him fall or hoisted him higher, but a mother always cries. And so I will pull myself together and spray my son with the bottle used for our plants and have him apologize and play.

The first time he uses "girl" as an insult and not a descriptor or a title of highest praise, we will sit down and I will look him in the eye and tell him that I am a girl, that I was a girl, and will always be a girl, and that "girl" is just a name for what some people are. So when he calls her a girl like he's calling her a bug or a baby, he is also saying that to me, and the woman walking down the street, and Michelle Obama, and his aunts and cousins.

When my son asks why they tease him for wearing pink, I will say it's because they have a terrible view of the world, and an equally bad fashion sense because you, my dear, are a spring, and that color suits you perfectly.

When he asks me to make him toast during a busy morning, I will tell him to make toast himself. When he says he doesn't know how, we will look up "weaponized incompetence" and read articles about adult men who can't cook eggs. And he'll grow up to make some damn good toast.

When he's seven and finds my box of ultra-plus tampons, tears through them because he thinks there's candy inside, and ends up with cotton balls, we'll deploy some in cups of water and watch as they float so he knows the ways of our world.

When my son starts dating the sixteen-year-old who's already pregnant and doesn't know the daddy, and invites her over to meet me, I'll give her my old maternity clothes, cook a huge dinner, save my number in her phone for days that feel like decades.

When I find him tossing around the word "bitch" like a football at a family reunion, we will go on an etymology rampage with several brave exploits to short stories by Margaret Atwood and documentaries on medieval soups.

When he stops crying but his eyes are still pitted and dark, I'll pull him out of school, take him to the seaside and find a good therapist.

After the hotel fires him because he reports harassment, we'll consider leaving manure on their doorsteps, but settle for a good lawsuit.

When he forgets to turn off the stove, we'll have a party in the fire extinguishing foam and eat frozen pancakes on the melted kitchen floor.

When he plants an oak tree and names it after his grandfather, I will sob and smile and shake his hand.

When he cries out in fear, I'll cut us both slices of chocolate cake.