I don’t write very many poems and don’t consider myself in any way, shape, form, or fashion a poet, but this one has been brewing for a few years, and finally poured out of me this morning while my students were engaged with a test. I’m typing it while another class is taking one, so there may be a few flaws:
When you first left your mother’s womb
there were five minutes before you cried.
A father can wither a thousand times
in that span –
all the hopes I had for you
my first son,
the miracle your mother and I had worked so hard to get here
waiting month after month for the right cells to meet.
Before my voice soothed you in the warmer
and our eyes met for the first time,
there were five minutes before you drew breath,
gray, limp, fragile.
The doctor’s nerves never faltered
as he squeezed the suction bulb
drawing out the thick, brown sludge from your lungs.
Long before you, your little brother, and I
swam at Fontana lake,
there were five minutes before you cried
every breath suspending
on the edge of the darkest fear
that your first whimper might never arrive.
Then the first crackle of noise
sputtered from your throat
followed by another weak crackle
and then a full, loud wail.
There were five minutes before you drew breath
and in that time
I prayed and begged and pleaded
to everything I’ve lost hope in
that one day you would know
my world means nothing