My Rabid Boy

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after Yehuda Amichai

 

My rabid boy: Each evening

he thrashes my fancy, catches

my every idea in his teeth.

He tears them. I am his woodland.

I feel him sharpen his claws

on my heart. I hear

his mews and snarls circle

each hair on my neck.

 

My rabid boy, my tarantula

stitching a nest of my hunger,

shushing my efforts at speech.

I crawl inside him.

 

I want to cock my ears

behind his ears,

like how under a cloud the owl

freezes, gathers herself,

and dives to transmute a vole.

 

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Click here to read Dan Rosenberg on the origin of the poem.

 

 

Image: “Red and Blue” by Mike Lewinski, licensed under CC 2.0

Dan Rosenberg: About five years ago, I was standing in line in the supermarket with my infant son strapped to my chest in the Ergobaby carrier. He was asleep. A middle-aged woman tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “You’re such a good dad!” I looked down at my child, at that moment just an uncomplicated weight, hanging there, then looked up at her and said, “How do you know?” Rude, yeah, and I apologized and thanked her, but I couldn’t help bristle at the incredibly low bar she’d articulated for fatherhood.

Now my son is five. I was going to say he’s in kindergarten, but these days my wife and I are dividing the days in half, alternating between the jobs we’re paid to do and teaching him via a loose array of kindergartenish activities. Art, Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Play Choice, Exercise. There are regular variations—there is a chart—but it’s a daily performance of attentiveness. We are two introverts each spending half of our conscious hours educating a child who has always wanted to talk, endlessly, at every human and most animals he encounters. When he wakes up in the morning, he climbs into our bed, between us, and lies down. He cannot keep his body still. We both get kicked, gently, until one of us gets up with him. I am exhausted.

But sometimes when we are walking in our neighborhood I’ll snatch him up and he’ll start laughing immediately. “I’m gonna squeeze you!” I shout upward, as if I were talking to the sky. “I’m gonna crush you into a diamond and keep you in my pocket forever!” He cackles and leans in. I think he thinks I’m joking.

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