The Grammar of Parenting
for Will & Howard
* * *
Walking Lower Wacker in Chicago,
we debate how strictly vegan you’ll raise your son
as snow melts and fills the shoes
we all, January ill-equipped, have worn
here. Will’s yellow sneakers, Howard’s loafers,
my bright green Adidas. You will raise,
your son, the one in future perfect
on this cold, but too-sunny Thursday before
the adoption agency has matched
you with the boy from the Rust Belt.
The one you’ll take far, to South Carolina,
to birthday parties at Pizza Hut
where, He won’t eat cheese pizza,
Will says. Howard retorts, I’m not sure I agree
with you there, and straightaway, I regret
bringing up this topic, a hypothetical
question the social worker might ask two men
who eat not meat nor milk nor eggs
but kale cooked down with garlic
and cut onion, the unleavened biscuits
Will mixes at the counter in a steel bowl
as Eminem beats out from the stereo.
As Howard feeds the three, rescued dogs
and I pluck vaguely Oriental plates
from the cabinet. In the end, you decide
to give this future son the information
on factory farming and animal slaughter
as we laugh over twelve dollar tofu scrambles.
Will says, I mean, we’re not going to stop
loving him if he eats a Chicken McNugget.
Like when, in the half darkness of a parking lot
after his baseball game freshman year,
you’ll embarrass him, and he’ll say
through clenched teeth—I hate you, Dad—
but keep on loving you in the present tense,
all these words both useless and full.