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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 19, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This poem explores my deep ambivalence about not having children. As I have watched many of my friends become parents, I have had occasion to review the circumstances that have led to my own childlessness; this poem documents those considerations.”
—Mark Wunderlich

The Son I’ll Never Have

The son I’ll never have is crossing the lawn. He is lying on an                imaginary bed,

the coverlet pulled up over his knees—knees I don’t dare                      describe.

I recoil from imagining him as meat and bone, as a mind

and hands stroking the fur of his pet rabbit.

I never gave him the accordion I used to play, my mother and I

in duets: “The Minnesota Polka,” “What a Friend We Have in            Jesus,”

never watched him push noodles into his mouth with fingers

while I wished he would use the spoon shiny with disuse.

I am free from longing to be free; I do as I please,

my money is my own, all the mistakes I make are only my                     mistakes.

What is it to look at something you made and see the future?

What is it to have someone made by your body, but whose                   mind

remains just out of reach? I’ll never know. Come here, little                 rabbit.

Eat these greens. I will pet your cloudy fur with the mind’s                 hand. 
 

Copyright © 2016 by Mark Wunderlich. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 19, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Mark Wunderlich. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 19, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Mark Wunderlich

Mark Wunderlich

Born in 1968, Mark Wunderlich won the Lambda Literary Award for his debut collection, The Anchorage.

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My father fell from the boat.
His balance had been poor for some time.
He had gone out in the boat with his dog
hunting ducks in a marsh near Trempealeau, Wisconsin. 
No one else was near
save the wiry farmer scraping the gutters in the cow barn
who was deaf in one ear from years of

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