This winter poem is an oldie, from the time when my daughter was small. The poem weaves in narratives about my friend who went to a sperm bank, about my daughter's first encounter with anti-Semitism, and about loving my husband with his great sense of humor. The poem is found in Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, Black Widow Press, 2009.
Cold white sun. Pam's off at the sperm bank
A wary shopper, she passed on the box marked
How sick I am of categories!
Do the trees care that the sky has no roots?
Why not say "breath" for sky and branches?
Why call me "slow" when I may be racing toward
Oh, I can see myself in your rear-view mirror,
plucky like a sperm on my way to the bank
determined, it's pay day,
breathe, breathe, wiggle wiggle, I'm an unusual
Reeboks instead of flagella.
Pam calls back--she's learned that "Unusual"
means Native American.
It's 1938, Berlin, and I'm
unusual, hell, we're all a heartbeat away
from unusual. We all love our children past
categories, we'd invent any subterfuge to save them,
give them our breath, swallow this white sun,
dragons breathing fire on the Klan, a belch
for that boy
in Heather's class who said the Jews were stupid,
better save a candleflame for Mrs. English
who saw no bullying.
Let her recant the narrow outline
reteach the whole Fourth Grade--
this time that writing "off-topic" is lovely, the practice of the outside lovely,
the practice of wind and trees and sun
unusual Grandmothers and Grandfathers
praying for the shining mothers and fathers
on our way to God-knows-where.
In bed, when I tell him about my sperm-walk,
my concern about suddenly seizing the macho--
do I secretly want to be a man?
Lou says, "There's a big difference between
being a sperm and being a man."
"What's the difference?"
"A man is alive, a sperm, debatable."
"And sperm don't know where they're going,"
I add. "Neither do most men,"
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.