Full Circle, A Diptych

(with thanks to Forrest Gander)

For which it turns out you are the cause:
here they are, flawed human beings with adult problems,

their own ways of slicing it, their own patterns and opinions,
with their own lives, their own ways of salting meat.

And helped out with grad school and they’re launched.
And endured the teenage years, and paid for college.

To swim, to read, you’ve paid for the orthodontist,
and they learn to walk.

Massages, spicy food, uninterrupted thought—
you give up nightlife, adult conversation, another hour-and-a-half

and you would do anything for them, and you do:
in a convertible on a winding road by an azure sea

more delightful than sex. Not the best meal, not driving fast,
but limpid as soap bubbles, and there has never been anything

but their fontanel in your neck and you cover it with kisses.
Towards you they smile, they nuzzle the soft bones,

they begin to know who you are. They reach their chubby arms.
They bend when you try to cut their shrimp-shell nails

so fragile, and you swoon before their transparent skin.
The soft floss of their hair, the bluish pattern that blooms.

And wander the few rooms your life has narrowed to,
and when she cries, you pick her up again.

You can hardly bear the baby’s ruthless gums,
sleep-deprived, disoriented, your nipples so sore.

**********************************************

Sleep-deprived, disoriented, your nipples so sore
you can hardly bear the baby’s ruthless gums,

and when they cry, you pick them up again,
and wander the few rooms your life has narrowed to,

the soft floss of their hair, the bluish pattern that blooms
under transparent skin, shrimp-shell fingernails so fragile

they bend when you try to cut them. Soon
they begin to know who you are, they reach their chubby arms

towards you, they smile, they nuzzle the soft bones
of their fontanel into your neck and cover it with kisses

limpid as soap bubbles, and there has never been anything
more delightful, not sex, not the best meal, not driving fast

in a convertible on a winding road by an azure sea,
and you would do anything for them, and you do,

you give up nightlife, adult conversation, hour-and-a-half
massages, spicy food, uninterrupted thought,

and they learn to walk,
to swim, to read, and you’ve paid for the orthodontist

and endured the teenage years, and paid for college
and helped out with grad school and they’re launched,

with their own lives, their own ways of salting meat,
their own ways of slicing it, their own partners and opinions,

here they are, flawed human beings with adult problems
for which it turns out you are the cause.

Meryl Natchez

Meryl Natchez

Meryl Natchez’ most recent book is a bilingual volume of translations from the Russian: Poems From the Stray Dog Café: Akhmatova, Mandelstam and Gumilev. Her work has appeared in Hudson Review, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, ZYZZYVA, The Pinch Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Lyric, The Moth, Comstock
Meryl Natchez

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Author: Meryl Natchez

Meryl Natchez’ most recent book is a bilingual volume of translations from the Russian: Poems From the Stray Dog Café: Akhmatova, Mandelstam and Gumilev. Her work has appeared in Hudson Review, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, ZYZZYVA, The Pinch Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Lyric, The Moth, Comstock