A Poem by Meghan O'Rourke

Poem for My Son

You were of the earth, like a lentil.
The taste of quince, a revulsion at meat.
The others were like a dream that scores
the body long after waking—
But you were sour spit, a pinched pain in the right hip.
There was nothing luminous about you,
oh you made the smells of the city repellant.
On the doctor’s screen,
a black dot with a line through it, a blot,
you grew slowly grey and white,
then boned and legged and oblong and minded.
I made you out of grapefruit and Rice Chex.
—The others were made of longing.—
Each time I saw you in the soundwaves
was preparatory, not romantic; not like the wind
but more like a river pushing against my legs,
insisting on its presence. In thick socks
I ate potato chips and congee, built
you without trying, splaying my ribcage.
Lugging my freight down the street,
I thought about what I wanted for you—
(love love and more love)
but you were already you, not
an outgrowth of my mind,
just your own strange, remote, hardening body,
moving toward arrival under surgical lights
in sudden, open parenthesis—


Meghan O’Rourke is a poet and nonfiction writer whose poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Best American Poetry and more. She’s the author of the best-selling memoir The Long Goodbye and her most recent poetry collection is Sun in Days, just out from W.W. Norton.

The Poetry Section is edited by Mark Bibbins.