How to Hold a Son
by Amy D. Unsworth
For a newborn the bend of your elbow
supports the head, the untrained neck.
Note the bunched face, the pulse
visible at the crown. Prop your arms
with a pillow. Don’t sleep.
At two pretend to be a zebra,
prance on all fours. Become
accustomed to carpets, grass.
Rediscover your knees, sitting
cross-legged. Laughing, he’ll
collapse into your arms. Hurry.
The five year old will bring tulips,
stemless. Or a ladybug. Find a bowl,
a stool, a magnifying glass.
Stand behind, peer at the dusting
of pollen. Hold the glass steady
to see spots and wings. Inhale.
At nine, tousle hair.
Carry the backpack, tuck in
an extra chocolate. In front
of friends, smile. Read about
dragons or mummies. Sneak
your arm around, let it settle.
Pull him close.
In the teens, persist.
Wrestle, slap backs. Knock first.
Attend ballgames and cheer.
Say it’s for your own sake.
Recall the ache in your arms,
the throb of his heart.
Let him leave. Learn to sleep.
Not What I Expected: The Road from Womanhood to Motherhood