Bio Note: I’ve fathered 3 children and now I’m grandfathering 4. Each one is an adventure. They will bring world peace and fix the climate and end world hunger. They’re that good.
She to whom talking is like breathing at age 3 a mockingbird of words wades in foam on a Pacific beach. A sleeper-wave slams her little body face down floating. I grab hair like seaweed pull her up coughing spitting. Later, wrapped in towel she is quiet, thoughtful when to my lurching heart she says If I drowned would you have another baby? The silence I could not imagine.
Boy, Almost Six
You are five or as you say, almost six. You have a toolbox like me. You read books in bed like me. You even make up poems like me. I am thirty-five which is almost forty. I wish I could cry like you and scream at people when I'm angry like you and heal my wounds with a blanket like you. With your eyes through which I am learning to see, take in our redwood mountains, our blackberry hills, quick squirrels. Brake for them, please, when you drive when you're sixteen, which is almost twenty-one. Learn to love moss and fat spiders. Feel the fungus feeding on decay. I am rotting, my son, as you feed on me and I would have it no other way.
Originally published in MOON Magazine
Two high school boys overtake me like cruise missiles as I hear the faster one say Penetration is my favorite word in the English language. The other more plodding one says Don’t brag. Their square butts disappear around a forest bend as a speedy bug zaps into my mouth straight to the throat lodged in buzz and struggle halfway down. Gagging bent with hands on knees I spit a ball of phlegm like an egg with a black center which as I watch crawls over the dust-cake trail to hide beneath a sheltering fern. I’m scared for my daughter.
©2022 Joe Cottonwood
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