The child you think you don’t want
is the one who will make you laugh.
She will break your heart
when she loses the sight in one eye
and tells the doctor she wants to be
an apple tree when she grows up.
It will be this child who forgives you
again and again
for believing you don’t want her to be born,
for resisting the rising tide of your body,
for wishing for the red flow of her dismissal.
She will even forgive you for all the breakfasts
you failed to make exceptional.
Someday this child will sit beside you.
When you are old and too tired of war
to want to watch the evening news,
she will tell you stories
like the one about her teenaged brother,
your son, and his friends
taking her out in a canoe when she was
five years old. How they left her alone
on an island in the river
while they jumped off the railroad bridge.
“Middle-Age” by Pat Schneider from Another River: New and Selected Poems. © Amherst Writers Press, 2005.