I will not know your children;
And even if that may not be so
they will not know me
As I run to you,
holding your hand
walking beside you with the camera
we bought for you on my birthday.
They will not know how content
when I rub your head and back,
Mr. video child who colors in the lines
as calm as a baby bird,
patient and prepared
with intensity that wraps around resilience.
I told your mother
I could not love her children
as much as I loved her;
then, I couldn’t imagine anyone able to stretch love
beyond that loyal vast place.
I was right but also wrong
because the lives I will lie down for--
your father and brothers too--
I would not equivocate,
my clear decision so all of you
may all hold steady.
In the kitchen
just before we reached the table
you came quickly, and wrapped your arms around my legs
from nowhere, and we acknowledged.
I will remember that moment that cannot be altered,
our affirmation to the last breath.
I tell you I love you
and you tell me you know.
I tell you it’s okay
and you tell me no:
you should have known the ornament was glass,
you say, not the wood you expected when you bit into it.
I tell you six years is not long enough
to know all that
but I stop from adding that even sixty years
is sometimes not long enough.
Even Adam bit the wrong apple
And even your Grandmother's lost a gamble.
I can’t protect you, little man.
But I will be your audience forever
and I will applaud every achievement,
every misstep, every mistake.
I will hold you in my arms even when
embrace is at a distance.
It means everything to come first sometimes
and I and your family will show you that.
You are six years old today;
You, a poet, a gamer, a Patriot, a colorer,
a child who will watch me age,
understanding how easily I bend
to love all that you love too.
Happy Birthday Ryan,