July 23, 2017

This is Love, Yo—a Poem about Fatherhood.

A poem for my kids to read—but not yet.

Me on the chair
Reading a book
With you at the water’s edge
It’s okay
I am a stranger
Yes, you may be too old for this
Me, too
But this is how it has to be for now
One and three-quarters eyes on the page
A quarter on the base of your feet
The only thing I can see in my bottom periphery
As I try to maintain attention
To the biography I am reading
Because this is love, yo

And certain to the touch
Is the odd teenage reaction
Of bending your neck
So I may receive the back of your head
Sweaty, matted hair
As a surrogate hug to say “goodnight”
I will continue to comment
“Is that all I get?”
Because this is love, yo

Encapsulated by a love beyond romance
As if it existed before you were born
Before I was born
When the universe was born
Streaming through our blood
Like quarks and star dust
Crossing paths again
For the first time
In seven billion years
Because this is love, yo

Maybe only a parent can understand
Though understanding is a falsehood
Does an addict understand the pull of a drug?
Does a mother goose understand her urge to attack an innocent runner?
Passing by, knowing that
Time is finite
This is love, yo

And when I pull up my phone for a photo
For the thousandth time
I recognize the rolling eyes
And guttural objections
Are only a way of expressing what is a disturbance in your day
Painstakingly, here you are
I had to only endure a slight glance at the camera with a flash
That my mom never adjusted as I grew taller
For a handful of photos that all ended at my bottom lip
And now I can’t help but chronicle every glimpse in passing
Though a smile from you in just one of them
May cut down my need
This is love, yo

And when the trying turns to hope
And the talking turns to prayer
And the seeing turns to memory
All we have is what we had
And all we had is what we were
To each other
Me to you
You to me
Us to each other
Because this is love, yo

Author: Marc Kaye
Image: Michael 1952/Flickr
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Danielle Beutell

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