On My Son Turning Eighteen

I recently had two people, very dear to me, subscribe to my poetry blog. Thank you M. and B.!
So many February birthdays! Happy day to several clients of mine and dear Emily and wonderful Emma! And my son Ivan, to whom this poem is about. Blessings to you all <3.


On My Son Turning Eighteen

There is a blizzard the day my son turns eighteen
and so our plans to dine with family are postponed.
I can’t get to the store for the frosting’s powdered sugar,
yet he tells me he doesn’t care for cake anymore
and doesn’t need anything.

When he was still a boy,
he’d come lie next to me in the evening,
I’d put my book down.
It took fortitude to not break his gaze first,
he became my teacher.

This is not a poem about a rebellious teen,
not about abandon.
My son will stir from the computer
when he hears me arrive,
offers grocery unloading and helping with cooking.
And yet, he heads to his bedroom soon after dinner,
usually prefers a run with earbuds
to walking with me on our wooded trails.

The rare snowstorm has invigorated our outdoor time together
and I follow in his footsteps as he is faster and stronger.
He notices animal tracks beside us
and surmises a deer before I guess.
The imprints are little tucks, evenly spaced,
the way you poke a hole for seedlings.

Recently while I was at work,
my son texted asking if he could wash his tuxedo shirt
that he needed later for a concert
in which he was performing.
Yes! I answered, banking on a polyester blend,
the high school concert hall darkly lit,
remembering kids with too short pants, green dyed hair, acne.

An hour before curtain time, he called, looking for safety pins
“The collar won’t stay down, and the ruffles are too ruffly,”
yet declined my offer to meet him early
in the parking lot to help.
Feeling guilty I was not home, I suggested,
“You could try getting them wet again and shape them...”

I spent years telling him to stand up straight,
showed him exercises on a yoga ball,
threatened a chiropractor.
I blame his burdens - a laden backpack,
him craning to stare at his phone,
bending forward as he concentrates on saxophone scales,
honors classes and college admissions, 
divorce, the social complexities of high school.
A masseuse once shared he himself
slouched for years to protect his heart.
One day my son stands taller
and then the next day, taller still.

When I receive the text
“hot water worked, my shirt looks fine,”
I see a little paper boat.
His life is becoming these moments,
little crafts set free amid the current.
I am not sure anymore who folds them,
only that they are, so surely, released.