I hear you wake before I’m up myself
and snap to ready now before my eyes
crack from their crud to face your face today.
I hear you blunder toward my door. I hear

you crash it wide. The loosened hinges shiver
their frame, and now the house itself, awake
to the world and you, complicit, pulls me hard
as thunder from my sleep. You beat the echoes

to me, blear-faced, awash with night sweat; 
you drag a bunny by the ears to bed
and tumble graceless up the mattress, silent,
a drowsy rocket wanting, wanting something

I’m not awake enough to understand
but will be, soon, my son, and then we’ll go
to blaze the day, to stomp each puddle left
by the rain you never notice as you pull

me into the world, all leap and bowl, all grab
and fall. Today I’ll wake up better, call
the distance order, order it to be
a smaller thing. I’ll stand to make it so.

Related Poems

Goodnight Moon

I used to be as unsentimental as anyone could be.
Now I’m almost absurd, a clown, carrying you on my shoulders
around and around Palmer Square, through the cold night wind,
as stores lock up, and begin closing down. Goodnight,

fair trade coffee. Goodnight, Prada shoes. Goodnight soon,
my little son. You’re a toothy, two-foot-something sumo—a giddy,
violent elf—jabbing your finger at the moon, which you’ve
begun noticing in the last week or two. Moom, moom—for you,

the word ends with a mumming, as it begins. For me, beginnings
and endings are getting hard to tell apart. There was
another child your mom and I conceived, who’d now be reading
and teaching you to read—who we threw away when he or she

was smaller than a watermelon seed. The chairs, the domestic bears,
the clocks, the socks, the house—once again a strange cow
springs from the green ground, beginning the enormous leap
that will carry her above the moon.

You Can't Build a Child

with the medicinal poppies of June
nor with Celan's bloom-fest of dredged stone,
      not with history's choo-choo train of corpses,
    not with Nottingham's Robin Hood
            nor Antwerp's Diamondland.

Not walking on the Strand in Manhattan Beach with her
       silicone breast implants, refinery, waves of trash,
        not out of the Library of Alexandria
            with her burnt gardens that prefigure gnarly,
        barnacle-laden surfboards broken in half.

You can't build the child with the stone paths
        that we have walked on through the atmosphere,
            the pirate's plank, the diving board, the plunge,
          nor with the moon whether
                she be zombie or vampire.
        Not with Delphi, not with fangs, or cardamom bought
                in Fez, red with spring, red with
                    marathon running cheeks.

            Not with monk chant, bomb chant,
        war paint, not with the gigantic Zen pleasure zones,
                nor with this harnessed pig
        on the carousel that I am sitting on with my son
                in Nice, France. How it burns on its axis
            as if it were turning into pineapple-colored kerosene
        the way the Hawaiian pig, apple in snout, roasts
           in its own tropical meat under the countdown sun.

For the Graduation [Bolinas School, June 11, 1971]

for Sarah

Pretension has it
you can’t
get back
what’s gone by.

Yet I don’t believe it.
The sky
in this place
stays here

and the sun
comes, or goes
and comes again,
on the same day.

We live in a circle,
older or younger,
we go round
and around on this earth.

I was trying to remember
what it
was like
at your age.