Letter to
A Son
I Once

May 1974)

Carrie Alien McCray
Child of the mind
altering sixties,
where have you gone?
you used to walk
wet-faced into
the wind,
your little black
dog beside you
both sloshing into
the house
leaving mud-marks
on a freshly
scrubbed floor
Home from college
we sat together
sharing the philosophies
of Dubois, King, Fanon
Thoreau and Malcolm;
you, sifting but
the words
that shaped your own
I see you now
Tall, handsome in
your airforce uniform,
a sensitive young man
looking out the
kitchen window
asking of war
Is this the answer ---
then you went away
I searched for you
in many light and
lovely places
where still rings
the sound of your
but did not find
you there,
changing course,
I walked the
lonely paths of
war torn, drug
shattered youth
saw huddled in a
deep, dark corner
a stranger, his
eyes closed, his
head down on his
Who was that?
slowly your lifted
eyes told me
For one fleeting
moment you returned
the flicker of your
old smile,
small light in an
otherwise abyss
But I'll keep searching,
my child of the sixties,
Knowing that there
in the eye of the
hurricane, deep
in the center
of you, is the
son I once knew.

§     §     §

Sondra Zeidenstein
On the crowded ferryboat from Tortola to St. Thomas I sit behindmy son
and when I'm not looking out at scrub forests on small mountains
or rows of timeshare condominiums set high over the water,
I study the back of his head with a claim not appropriate
when we are face to face and our eyes hold each other
no more than 2 or 3 seconds before they widen and turn away.
Does he feel his mother's eyes in his hair, buzzed up the neck like awingtip collar,
on his neck burnt by the tropics, orderly pores, skin taut
except when he turns his head to watch the approach
to St. John's where he'll get off?
All that's left to see from the back are his ears, reddish and prominent,
the stiff way they stick out, perfectly aligned.
It's a wonder they didn't get clipped coming out of me.
I was screeching and swearing when this dark head crowned.
I bawled fuck and heard the nurses get very quiet.
Maybe I said, fuck God.
His head was a little bit squashed, pliable bone dented by forceps.
He hadn't much chin.
I gave up my separateness to protect him, we were one.
And now in the blue green water between sleeping volcanoes,
I can't see his future.
"Thank you for the good meals," he says on the dock.
"We'll be in touch," I say, imagining my palm on his breastbone.
He walks away.
Back on the boat, I take a seat in front, facing the stolid bulkhead,
stare at its signs about how many life preservers there are,
what sizes, where they are stored.

--- From Family Reunion: Poems
About Parenting Grown Children

Sondra Zeidenstein, Editor
©2003Chicory Blue Press
Goshen CT 06756

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