POEM OF THE WEEK: KATE GASKIN
Abecedarian for My Son Just before His Diagnosis
Always I am this sorry
body swelling at the least hint of hurt,
childhood like a rag tied up from my jaw to temple.
ever get to leave anything behind? My sorry
face is your face, my weak
genetic map is your fate. Now you’ll never
have your keys when you need them. Your
instinct will be both fight and flight.
Just listen. Just listen. Just listen. We can’t be what we
know we think we are deep down,
less than and glitchy, cursing our overripe
melons for brains. My son, this is you
now, you always, frenetic blur
of moth wings against bare bulbs, your relentless
porpoising through this, our sea-green world of both
querulous and joyous astonishments. Your anger is my
rage, and your delight incandesces the mean
stinging nettle of my heart. If we are truly in this
together, then we’ll always be a little
unlaced, undone, unmoored, unmoved, unimpressed by the
vast difference between
what we know we should do and what we really want, which is
X when X is actually Y when
Y is your whole wondrous life unrolling like a carpet of fragrant
zinnias before you, blood-red and flaming and true.
Kate Gaskin is the author of Forever War (YesYes Books 2020), which won the Pamet River Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, Pleiades, The Southern Review, and Blackbird, among others. She is a recipient of a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, as well as the winner of The Pinch’s 2017 Literary Award in Poetry. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska.