I don't expect you to remember or
-Rachel Zucker
Your mother spread her energy, hoping you’d grab hold. You’d call it a prayer if she believed
            any man held sway over her soul. You’d have come a little quicker if you knew
            the puppies, the cooing faces, the tangy yogurt that was waiting. Reeling after
            a year of loss, a couple dozen cried & cheered that you’d arrived, and we all
            lined up to pinch your toes.

The house was a mess: three dogs, four chickens, one long-term houseguest, a rennovation
            still underway. A small country, Mom & Dad presiding, softening corners, harvesting
            light & leaves, digging out rot long buried. Preparing for you.

Lemme tell you something about your dad—he can do anything. I know him to cultivate the heart
            as deftly as the raspberries you gather each summer. In ways he & I will probably
            never understand, he built me up.

He demanded his love in equal magnitude, and I saw I was worthy, despite the body
            I hadn't yet learned to love, of the same. He was able to cry, so I was. He put his hand
            in mine, and I knew it was safe. Helped create this space where I was fully a man,
            and it meant nothing more or less than In this moment, you are loved.

Of your mom, I can say I’ve never seen love so immense. For you, for her enemies, for the soil
            we must share. She labored over 48 hours, held on so you could be baptized
            with a promise: new life, perfect from the start, a shield brimming & growing
            inside, with faith in the urgency of this single life, the world yours to walk through
            in your own name, everlasting, amen.

I would like to say—she was the meeting place, the marriage of the waters. A crossroads
            at which the vehicles of many homelands met, were parked & broken down, rebuilt
            in a shape more sleek, more gracious to those we would meet on the road ahead.

Monte, I tell you all this because I don't know who else will leave you this record.
            Because I hope you will understand the depth of your parents' inner lives. Like you,
            their joy might burst through fingers & toes so they can't control the wiggles.
            Like you, they rage until numb at the cruelty they can't dismantle.
            You were conceived in 2016. How else can I say it?

I reach into the future to glimpse the man you might be. With what words & actions
            will you express love? Will you have the courage to fail and embrace the work
            of humility? How long will you kiss me goodbye? Will you want me around when I’m old?

And while I don’t plan to have my own children, I held you in the NICU and maybe felt something
            close to the fear all parents feel, knowing the pain & choice you’ll face—
            how it's only the hard way you learn cracking one window might close all your doors.

Something like hope, thinking I could stare all day at your ears tucked so close to your head.
            Watch you discover that you are apart from the world. That you, Monte, have a discrete effect
            on it & us. That when you look at something, it must be the most beautiful thing
            in this world in that moment.

So Baby Bear, even if you don’t save the world, you’ve already softened a few battered hearts,
            convinced me this journey is worth enduring—

if only to push you on, help you fuck up, giggle at your farts—my godson, my MoCo, my Little Bear,
            my faith in the mechanisms of community, and medicine, and evolution, and prayer.

for my godson, Monte Wagner Cox

More poems in the Notes to Self series:
More poems about Friendship:
More poems about Hope:
More poems about Masculinity:
More poems about Obscure sorrows: