Poem For My Adopted Son
and for his mother, who surely kissed his head
and hoped. For the woman who held him
those 10 months while papers passed
from country to country – he learned his smile from her.
For the man who took his passport from one pile,
stamped it with a visa, and placed it in a new pile.
For the pilot who flew us home. For a woman on the plane
who helped me stop his cries.
For the height of my husband’s shoulders, the large feeling
of the view they offer. For the preschool teachers
who will bend down to welcome him three times each week.
For all the teachers he will ever have, for their tireless
grading of papers, their quick lunches.
For a neighbor who will stop his scooter
from rolling down the driveway into the street. For women
with extra kleenex and band-aids on hand.
For the dog who will chew his toys and teach him
to forgive. For the grocery store clerk who will listen
to his long story with interest,
for the patient customers in line.
For the girl who will dance with him in middle school
when he is shy and the dance is mostly pity.
For the drivers of carpools.
For the sliver of sun across his bed to wake him
when my calls have been ignored. For the crowd
he’ll someday feel a part of.
For the authors of books he will read
to ease his loneliness. For the dentist
who will straighten his teeth, so much in life
depending on first impressions.
For a stranger who will help push his car
when it is stuck in snow.
For friends who will be good influences.
For friends to drink with, who will forgive him
terrible things he says when he has had too much
and the night has gotten late. For good, heavy rain –
it will always be honest with him.
For his first love, who will break his heart, and also
delicately open it. For the singer of the song
he’ll play on repeat to heal his broken heart.
For the residents of foreign cities who will welcome him
and speak indecipherably,
making him feel small but brave. For any cooks
preparing his food, for their hand-washing,
their disinfected kitchens.
For co-workers to complain with at break time,
friends for happy hour. For the boss who will promote him.
For his true love.
For a breeze to remind him there are things
moving that he can’t see. For any doctors
he may come to vulnerable, for their gentleness
and clear heads.
For the children he might have someday.
They will make him new all over again.
Jennifer Manthey is an MFA student at Hamline University in St Paul, MN. She also serves on the editorial board of the Water-Stone Review. She lives with her husband and three children in Minneapolis.