“Heir to Misfortune,” Washington Post (2016)
Turns out he’s afraid
I’ll get better and leave him
alone to suffer our disease.
So I said, gnarling the words:
maybe you won’t play violin
any more. But you can sing.
And damn, right there, age ten,
he did. What fathers share with
sons cannot be captured live
for when he sang I felt my hands
unclench, a small straight pure
vibrato in my spine
revive. There’s magic in these
gene cards that we shuffle out.
Some might say curse, though they’d be
wrong. We gambled when
we started off. They’d say we
lost. But as he sang
a sea arose
and washed a beach.
We know, who
struggle now, the faces of
the monsters that we wrestle
with; and see as in dark mirrors
who we are. Through clouds
our glance is one more secret gift
surprised: his copper hair, his
bright, too-wise blue eyes.