The child I never had’s now lost to me.
No daughter plots to confiscate my car keys;
no son works on his bitter childhood memoir
where I’m the villain, he’s the victim-star.
Instead of ingrate kids, I chose to raise
two darling cats whose memoirs would’ve praised
my faithful service as their loyal slave
if they’d been written.. The books I wrote instead
of changing diapers and of earning bread
to feed my brats are mostly out of print
(not out of fashion—they were never in),
so I’ve begun to question my decision
to pass on words, not genes, to generations
who likely won’t know how to write or read
contemporary English, but who’ll breed
enthusiastically with one another,
eager to become the father and mother
of “dying generations,” as Yeats said—
of children who’ll replace them when they’re dead.
But future generations look ahead,
not behind. Who cares who screwed who
five centuries before, which led to you?
So, as I sift through my rejection slips
while listening to my heart, which beats and skips
like a biological clock that still ticks
but keeps completely unreliable time,
I wonder: if I could, would I rewind?
Yeats had a daughter; Shakespeare had a son—
why not a little Me to carry on
my DNA, unlike Emily Dickinson,
who ended, with a flourish, her strange line,
just as, I guess, I’ll be the end of mine
(though wonderful techniques have been devised
to concentrate weak sperm and fertilize
eggs harvested from frozen ovaries).
For twenty thousand dollars, little Me’s
concocted in a test tube could arise
with my black hair (now gray), my hazel eyes,
and one of them might win the Nobel prize.
But no. Though tempted by expensive progeny,
I guess I’ll stick with making poetry.
Richard Cecil's work has recently appeared in New Ohio Review,
Carbon Copy, and the 2012 edition of The Pushcart Prize anthology.
His most recent collection of poems is Twenty First Century Blues.