A letter to my son at 10 weeks old

You are almost three months old. Ninety days. Twelve weeks. The world already looks like a different place. During your short life a lot has happened: a new president, a terrifying economy, a snowy winter giving way to a wet spring. I still don’t know how to play the piano. I have not written as many poems as I had hoped. Your mother grows more beautiful by the day. I walk the dog every night. The dog continues to carefully observe the squirrels’ routine, preparing. I struggle with my work and my weight. The same books stare at me from the bedside table. I despair at the state of my basement study.

Every night I hold you and I hear another instrument enter the arrangement; your life is full of promise and mystery. I try to imagine your future; I am certain it will be different than mine, but how? You will not grow up with monkeys in the backyard, or large lizards in the driveway. There will be no mongoose creeping around your bedroom window, no ever-present geckos on the walls, clucking you to sleep. “I want to tell what the forests were like / I will have to speak in a forgotten language.” The tropical insects will not sing you to sleep; the monsoon rain will not leave you in a thundering stormy silence.

Or maybe I assume too much. Maybe I will convince your mother to move to the tropics, to live in some fabled rainforest, shrouded in mist, and somehow manage a living. What will you discover in your life? Will you be a scuba diver, reveling in the mysteries of the ocean? Will you walk on another planet, or at least the moon? What will the stars offer you? What beautiful things will you see in math? What animals will you share your life with? What plants will you cultivate and come to love?

The physical world has always called to me, but somehow my modern life, my chosen vocation, takes me far afield from the natural and instead deep into the machine, the mechanical, the virtual, the intangible. Sometimes I feel lost in that library of Borges. That’s why I imagine for you a life rich in the astonishing varieties of nature, full of the earth. I am reminded of a Charlie Smith poem called “Modern Art” but suddenly I cannot remember any of the words.

A life of art; A life of science; A life of discovery; A life of love. These are the things I desire for you, the prayer I say each night for my little boy. Tonight the moon is one phase shy of full, but it fills the night sky despite the clouds:

Full Moon

Clouds curdle round it, crack open, let it through.
Radiance shaded by cloudshapes; fat fruit
of incandescence; sphere of peeled silver. I wonder
what living by such light would be: soft
collusion of moonshine with grey gables; walls
in a whitewashed trance; argentine grass; twigs
limned in pewter. Ambition and rage all faded
from the air, the air subdued to a new sense
of self, something intimate and sure about the way
it whispers subtle truths neighbor to neighbor–
or how its ashen luminescence slides inside things
so they shed the cinder skin of what goes on
day by day in daylight, and start breathing.

By Eamon Grennan

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