Adopting At Our Age
This poem went places that it shouldn’t have gone
in the beer tent listening to a jazz ensemble,
who came on after the dance band
and are suffering by comparison.
I’m trying to examine the difference between
flute solos and close harmonies,
between thrown together and tightly knit,
being here for themselves or the audience.
I’m with two of my grown-up daughters
and my wife is with the foster kids
watching Maleficent at the cinema.
I’m digging the songs my dad used to sing
and thinking of the time that children thieve
and all the things we won’t achieve,
like learning how to jive and lindy hop.
I’m piling up reasons we shouldn’t adopt.
Flowers are not meant to bloom in winter.
It looked different in December
when the dark days served to blinker us
and we fought our tiny Christmas tree corner.
There were sisters skipping arm in arm
in the absence of a sibling assessment
by the Solomons at Social Services,
their swords discreetly kept from sight,
their repertoire of condescension
and unanswered questions.
It was the country lurching to the right
and a butterfly wish to flap my wings
and make waves in some unsafeguarded centre,
feeling that we’d let them down
if we didn’t move heaven and earth
to keep them together.
Now summer shines a bulb in our faces
and mine has started to crack.
It’s when the social worker asked
if we think we’ll ever harbour some resentment;
the sports day when the Downs’ Syndrome
trailed in a long way last and was clapped
all the way up the finishing straight,
while I kept my hands firmly in my pocket,
like refusing to stand for the National Anthem;
the medical when the doctor found
there’s something not quite right with my heart.
Next week they’re investigating further.
I felt a little lightening, the hint of a reprieve,
but probably it’s no more than a murmur