They Will Think My Children Are Adopted — A Poem

https://www.flickr.com/photos/saratraore/4506094037

(Photo Credit: Flickr / SaraTraore)

They will sneak glances at us from afar in some small-town café.
I’ll be sipping my recently topped-up coffee with cream,
hand my son the waitress-given, tri-pack of primary colors,
and teach him how blue and yellow mix
so he can make green monsters in his coloring book.

My daughter will be only a few feet away,
practicing her pirouettes in an outfit she had
picked out all by herself that morning –
mashing unlike patterns and prints together
with clashing shades, and not giving
a damn in the world what anyone else thought about it.

The onlookers will not know what to do with our spectacle:
Two relatively well-behaved children
and their affectionate father who look nothing alike.
They will think my children are adopted
because the little ones will always keep the brown
lipstick stain of the sun’s kisses on their skin.

Because their mother’s genes are more resilient,
always have been, always had to be,
and they will have won this battle twice,
rendering all my expressions recessive
except for their eyes –
the rare and beautiful blue-green gems
that will wield so much unplanned power
in their heartbreak warfare – their traces
reminding me of my contribution to the great battle.

But the spectators will be too curious not to ask,
and when they work up enough nerve to stutter the question,
I will answer that, yes, it’s amazing
that these two beautiful ones are, in fact,
the fruit of my loins and my wife’s womb.
Their hair will be more wild when their mother
is away on work, and the shaky old ladies
will quietly judge me for not doing better.

***

By the time they are in high school
they will have outgrown the more adorable
stage when people are less judgmental.

The girls will not understand my boy –
sensitive and artistic, enjoying art class
more than gym time, being enigmatic with his desires
and their mixed emotions.

The boys will think they understand my girl,
flighty, flirty, and fit from years of dance study,
cat-calling as she flits by, labeling her
as exotic and increasing her (bagged) value
because what she is is hard to identify.

They will have a rough time fitting in wherever they go,
rarely puzzle-piecing into a social group
pre-constructed from previous norms.
They will be treated as outsiders
for the way they talk, act, think,
move, question, assert, even exist.

They will be hybrid. They will cause confusion
everywhere they walk, and I will boast proudly
of the change they leave in their wakes.

Because if evolution has taught us anything,
it’s that the cross-breeds are hardier.
They come pre-packaged with tougher skin,
and are better able to adapt and survive
in a harsh world still filled with blood silos
thrashing and grasping viciously to hold on
to what once belonged to their children.

[This poem originally appeared on www.littlewritingman.com]

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