Dad Poem (Ultrasound #2)

with a line from Gwendolyn Brooks

Months into the plague now,
I am disallowed
entry even into the waiting
room with Mom, escorted outside
instead by men armed
with guns & bottles
of hand sanitizer, their entire
countenance its own American
metaphor. So the first time
I see you in full force,
I am pacing maniacally
up & down the block outside,
Facetiming the radiologist
& your mother too,
her arm angled like a cellist’s
to help me see.
We are dazzled by the sight
of each bone in your feet,
the pulsing black archipelago
of your heart, your fists in front
of your face like mine when I
was only just born, ten times as big
as you are now. Your great-grandmother
calls me Tyson the moment she sees
this pose. Prefigures a boy
built for conflict, her barbarous
and metal little man. She leaves
the world only months after we learn
you are entering into it. And her mind
the year before that. In the dementia’s final
days, she envisions herself as a girl
of seventeen, running through fields
of strawberries, unfettered as a king
-fisher. I watch your stance and imagine
her laughter echoing back across the ages,
you, her youngest descendant born into
freedom, our littlest burden-lifter, world
-beater, avant-garde percussionist
swinging darkness into song.


Copyright © 2020 by Joshua Bennett. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 24, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Over the past few months, any number of unforgettable moments have been marked, marred, by the various forms of technology meant to make up the distance between us. I attended my grandmother’s funeral via Zoom; I experienced my son’s first ultrasound through a print-out my wife handed me in the car. The second time around, we managed to get adequate phone reception, and talked to each other through the entire procedure. This poem lives in the space between a kind of inexpressible anxiety at the outset of things, and the world-shifting joy of seeing my son’s heartbeat for the first time. In that moment, even at so great a distance, there was an irreducible proximity between us. It wasn’t so much as if I was there, but rather that we were elsewhere together, vibrant, and alive.”
Joshua Bennett