Tuesday, July 15, 2008

*Wilbur's Son

So this poem was inspired by a get-together with a couple friends, including Wilbur, a fellow poetry lover and teacher. Suffice to say, I was struck by something that he said and it stayed with me enough to want to write about it.

I did something I've never done with this poem, and that is I took a different perspective. Most of my writing is from my own perspective using my own voice and my own opinions; with this one, I felt it necessary and more affective to write from my father's perspective. I hope it's clear why I did that and I hope it helps the poem be more real.

by Me

Today Wilbur told me about his son.
It was perfect, he said.
Wilbur looked down at his forearm,
He fit right there;
and, with his right hand,
he measured out the length from the crook of his elbow
to the bottom of his wrist.
Now, he told me, my son is nineteen,
in college, and smarter than me
But it was perfect.
He looked me in the eyes, rare for him, and said it
like a great lost troubadour announcing a
universal truth to a desperately quiet audience.
When my son was born, I replied quite easily,
he went bloolp--
I motioned my hands together in front of me
and rushed them both forward,
displaying the suddenness of the moment.
--just like that.
We finished our coffee, talked of other things less
substantial, and went home.
As I made the left to enter the southbound side of the highway
I waved simple salute to Wilbur, heading north,
and I thought of his eyes as he told me of his son.
It was perfect. Bloolp.
How many times have I made that sound
and waved my arms in that gesture?
How many times have I told that story?
Wilbur looked at his forearm and made that hand measurement
as though he’d done it every day for nineteen years.
My car exited the ramp and I accelerated onto the highway,
and thought of Wilbur’s son in college, and mine,
much older. I can’t remember if I ever held him on
my forearm and gazed down at him,
and Wilbur’s wife made him stand next
to her head during their son’s birth.

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