Friday, May 15, 2009

Love poem for Isaku from 1983

Everyone says that you take after the father, not me. Though I was the one who suffered the nine months of carrying you around, the agony of labor, the Cesarean scar.
I feel surrounded by Face and Face _ a formalization in flesh of a relationship that was otherwise just a romance, perhaps even love, but not quite this. I am afraid. When I see your sleeping face to my right and the same face sleeping to my left, the face doesn't seem much bigger, with those eyes with lots of long lashes that make them appear smeared-gray painted, the pouting undersized mouth, the same curve of skull arching at the back. You two are breathing the identical rhythm, and I kill mine to make sure you are really breathing.
Did you know a mother often checks to make sure her sleeping child is still alive? You are nearly 2 years old, but you still want to suck. I feel like killing you. Yet I make sure you are alive. You cry when I leave. "Miss Mama," you tell me later in your sweet voice. (That sweet voice you have, no matter how much I resent you.) I don't feel guilty. I tell myself: I don't feel guilty. When you become a young man and I an old woman, I will cry for you, yet you will leave. So, at times, Isaku, I have to go.
Your father's shoulders have broadened and muscles lurk in arms that used to be skinny. He has a job now and works hard. And he wasn't like this before you came around. "Are you my son?" he keeps saying, bouncing you on his knee, waiting for your correct reply. "Yes, Daddy!" You point to his baby photos and comment, "Haku," mistaking them for yourself. When you grow up and leave, will this man, whose looks you will grow into, this man, who cried with me when you were born, will he still be here?

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