rob cook

 

THE SONG OF AMERICA

 

I’m raising my child to become the end of rotting,

and to expose the lushness of the cemetery moth.

I’m raising my child to know the difference between the two sunsets:

one purple with thermonuclear iodine,

the other the charred insides of rain.

I’m raising my child to find the stones his brothers fed each other.

I’m raising my child to fall behind the apricot blossoms

and to trust only others who’ve fallen behind.

I’m raising my child to listen: there is so much noise

only silence will be remembered.

I’m raising my child to fill in the spaces between wars

and the spaces between people

where everything grows even after the last space is gone.

I’m raising my child to bring into the world books that suffer

with words detention-kids make over and over.

I’m raising my child to follow the scatter of flesh across the sky,

birds and their wingprint trails to Alaska.

I’m raising my child to predict the sicknesses left of summer

by the number of shadows he sweats.

I’m raising my child to plant pennies where he’ll find rest

and good fingerpaint for one night.

I’m raising my child to chop down the televisions of peasants

and their machine that picks thunderstorms from a leaf.

I’m raising my child to write a treaty for his own smells,

the ones that hurt the self and the ones that hurt others,

and a treaty for the poison sumac whose only emotion is hunger.

I’m raising my child to dress like a long line of near-humans

if he wants to be recognized

and to show kindness to the roadkill that sneaks into his bed.

I’m raising my child to know which part of a hamburger is still afraid.

I’m raising my child to be captain of the abandoned mail trucks

and to lead the grasses across the Midwestern sleep.

I’m raising my child to leave New York.

I’m raising my child to add letters and numbers to his name

and chameleons and hellbenders behind his name.

I’m raising my child to drown and to drop dead and to carry buildings on his back.

I’m raising my child to listen to his face breaking when it’s cold.

I’m raising my child to seduce only photographs of women.

I’m raising my child to know that the cobras that shiver

in the sky at night are mistakes and not responsible for us.

I’m raising my child to leave bread for the voices that come after dark.

I’m raising my child to keep his eyes closed.

I’m raising my child to tell the truth by having no sound at all.