Reginald Shepherd
To Summon Up a Son

For Joan Houlihan


   Molded him out of shit and spit and love, mud
and a box of matchstick bones
to be my child, the son I'll never have
to comfort my young age, ages from the here
and now of sunlessness (the deepest blizzard
ever written down), a week
of overcast, a month, a year, and snow
I had forgotten to remember
to forget. Mined him out of my scarred history
and stories stolen from late night songs
on FM radio, in stereo to call my son,
out of contaminated blood,
it's dangerous to love these days
and nights of zero zero something or another
's coming. Something unpromised is coming,
something uncompromised, a something
wished for and given up, what was his name
I heard myself calling to supper? I hear him
calling father, further, faith in me, I thought
I heard him say wait for my signal to wake up
before you, or remember
who I might be, make me the apple that seizes
thine eye, heard him and then did not, my
never all over again. I made him stop, or maybe
that was my biohazard blood, said Closed
for business, please come back
another day (I'll do my best not to die
till then), a week of rain when I had thought
I saw some children playing at being snow, a child's
footprints in snow. Mixed him up
from memories and refrigerator magnets,
stirred up regrets and recompense, my confusion
made him shine, and rise, my son.
Found In Volume 37, No. 05
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Reginald Shepherd
About the Author

Reginald Shepherd was the author of Otherhood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), Some Are Drowning (winner of the 1993 Associated Writing Programs’ Award in Poetry); Angel, Interrupted; and Wrong. He died September 10, 2008.