How I'll Tell Him

We crawled on all fours across the grass.
With his head lowered my son led the way,
as if he'd been fitted with two small horns
to split the air. He made way to the garden.
For days I'd been trying to sort out weeds
from wild flowers, pulling up sprouts
that looked common. He stopped at the row
of annuals. At first he reached for a bright knot
of petals. Following close behind I whispered
gentle. His hand paused, his fingertips brushed
the petals' edge. Then his fingers grabbed soil.
Nothing could have stopped him from tearing
the blossoms. At night before I lower him
into his crib, we stand at the window
while I read a broadside of Stevens' poem.
Each time, without fail, after the final line,
In which being here together is enough,
he smiles, reaches out and runs his hand
across elegant print. I'm wondering
when the times comes, how I'll tell him
he has two daddies, how his first
was too hurt and young to fight for him,
that I refused to allow him to live fatherless
in the world. Each day comes to an end.
The garden's brilliance gives in to dark.
Sometimes while we sleep I hear whispering.
Words crossing between our mouths.


Poems by Richard Callin:

A New Life
Nine One One
Touring County Mayo, Eire
The Buick
How I'll Tell Him
A Story
Water Wheel

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets