I remember wanting a suit
three sizes too big.
I thought shoulders might give
a sense of purpose.
I thought man was something
that arrived like a taxi—
you could summon it.
I had confidence in spades.
In college, I dug graves for a priest
until he found me
weeping over a stone.
The word sin can be traced back to archery.
In the Book of Judges,
the Benjaminites were so good
with their bows they could
aim at a hair and not chait.
I still miss my father.
I keep waiting for my son’s birthmother
to show up at the door. The first year
he lived with us—he was six—she’d ride by
on her bike, but only at dusk when she
thought we couldn’t see her. A little swallow
on wheels, a dart of imperfection, more
than a bit tipsy—drinking and drugs
were her unmothering—she’d pedal past.
She’d move, that is, the gears of time,
hoping for another chance. She had
abused him, of course, and he loathed her,
but nonetheless…. Having just been
to Kitty Hawk, NC, I heard myself say,
with disdain, “The right mother”—as if
redemption had limits and love
were a feat that meant taking to the air.
Oh swallow so wronged and wronging….
Ralph James Savarese is the author of two collections of poetry, Republican Fathers and When This Is Over. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Seneca Review, and Sewanee Review.