Portrait of an Artist as a Single Dad – Birth

April 11, 2000

In the darkened hospital
a baby cries fresh cut
from her mother.
I, new father, whisper
over the girl’s fragile
head. A blessing for her.
“Oh me, Oh Life
of the questions ever
Walt Whitman
old man with butterfly eyes.

Old man who gave me answers
to questions I didn’t think
to ask. All those years
I spent masked from the world.
Had I conjured a vision of me
like a mirage out of desert
air? Leaves of grass–

Did I know you? Now I do,
but not until then, the moment
of birth, of awakening. In the blood.
In the heated night air.
The infant girl, blind
as an ancient seer, quiets
in my arms. In the gurgle
and beeps of the emergency room,
I meet myself for the first time.

Soon we’ll come down
the mountains, snow melt
watering flowers in spring.
I will shed the old life,
go back to school.
I need to do it for
her, for me. For the powerful

play. But on her birth day,
we held on in the hospital
where a new born had arrived.
What good amid these indeed.

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