And he and I are at the zoo.
I’m always the one who wants to come here
Before he leaves for the summer with his dad.
“I don’t want to go to the zoo,” he says as we’re leaving the house,
But I don’t give him a choice.
The impervious rhythms of the animals
Are a comfort to me.
He likes the sharks and
The giraffes and
Buying lunch in the cafeteria and
Cotton candy from a cart,
And a small toy from the gift shop.
Today we were watching the snow monkeys when my
Chest tightened up like a drawstring.
Nine weeks, he’ll be gone.
The gestation period of a dog.
Today driving here, I thought
There must be other mothers who put their
Kids on airplanes for the summer,
Who dread the last days of the school year
(“Any fun plans for summer?” people ask.)
Who take extra pictures and videos,
Who think melodramatically:
“What if he dies while he’s gone?”
“I suppose he could die here with me, too.”
I say cheerily,
“You’re going to have so much fun this summer!”
As a tear tracks down my face.
And he will.
He’s got his life over there, too.
I don’t share much in it,
And that’s okay.
He’s not mine, really, anyway.
It soothes me to think that
He’s a child of God out in the world,
And I’m one of his guides.
Among my many duties,
I take him places like the zoo,
And let other people take him places
On airplanes even.