To the Son I Never Had

by Kendall Witherspoon
The Waters
Honorable Mention, August 2015
Judged by C. Wade Bentley

You are not the blonde boy
crying. Running in dappled
river light, chasing tomorrow
and the toy red boat in rapids,
watching it disappear in rocks.
You are, of course, the boat.
I am the dam, or the damn fool
who bought the cheap string
when twine would have been
better you said. You are the
unused photo paper, the dead
turtle you did not feed and
the cheap football you hated.
I’m the corners you cut on your
homework, the pot plants you
skillfully grew along the fence,
the red car you crashed after
binge drinking with that girl.
I am the night you spent
in jail because I left you
there to rot you sobbed.
You are the river and I avoid
the bitter bridge we have built.
And you’re the Boy Scout compass
I still keep in my junk drawer.
And the promise I made that
you would not get my eyebrows,
that you would not become me.