Before and After

What Soft and Tiny Fingers

What soft and tiny fingers you will have
What soft and tiny, slender fingers!
What roundness in your face, and in your cries!
What purity of life that in the future lingers,
Within the grasping hands of my firstborn!

She sighs at me again. I look at her,
My wife of eight-odd months so torn–
Torn by her despair and by her desire
For a future not yet come to rest in present
As I still hold her now, not to go then.

But soft! What light from within me now breaks?
That I could want for tiny hands today
Is but the struggling sunrise of my hope!
Not just to cope with fettered comfort, casting “my” aside,
I welcome tiny futures with my bride.

* * *
i have not yet written you this poem

i have not yet written you this poem
as you have not yet come to be,
but still i wonder, already:
when you are grown, what part of me
will be most readily laid bare
by some turn of phrase
or gesture, a mannerism
or disproportioned limb of yours?
Artur's "statuesque pinky"
you will not have,
but will you share my warts,
or favorite drink?

i do not know, i think
i do not care. no,
i know that you will have
my wife's straightforward way of speaking
(i hope that you will share
my love of eating)
and too our love of pretty things.
(i do not care for that last sentence
but i do not dare dispute it)

tonight, as i am drifting off to sleep,
i will be still and try to think:
i will show you many things,
and tell you many more, with joy,
and ask that you tell me but one
(if only in a dream):
are you a girl, or boy?


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