Thursday, December 10, 2020

what child is this

I understand a little better this year,
when the air is thick with phlegm
and desperation, the impulse to look up
and ask for a miracle.

Urgent case in California,
begins the email from the adoption agency.
A woman due two days before Christmas.
I picture us racing up the coast

guided by starlight
playing the song our son danced to 
last December, parents packed
shoulder to shoulder in the auditorium.

He'll nod along and then he'll nod off. 
His eyes look more like his birthmom's 
when he's sleepy. We'll talk giddily
about TV shows, high on gas station coffee.

None of this comes true. 
Like the Christmas story, it has been tainted 
by the teller. The woman chooses 
different parents for her baby.

Photo by Magnus Östberg on Unsplash

This year our son is obsessed
with his Christmas list: night vision
goggles, L.O.L. dolls, a plastic waffle maker.
He has discovered the power of wishing

but not, yet, its limitations,
which lurk at the edge of the frame.
When he rages and plunges his fists
into every pocket of his advent calendar

I suspect that he suspects
how desire can propel and destroy:
a rocket, a supernova, some sublime deity
not meant to be looked at straight on.

And so we will point our longing
toward quieter things, no less miraculous:
our cat's safe return moments after
two coyotes paw silently across the street

stillness that dims the blue light of screens
immune systems that rally and bend
to meet new intruders
a trough that softens and becomes a bed.