Strange Parents

We’d be strange parents.
It’s so terribly late to start.
We’d hover, frightened but
maybe laissez-faire in other
arbitrary ways, the way we start,

finding the cat’s water bowl has
floated a dead cricket for days.
He might have a face that
would make a stranger avert
her eyes, afraid it might befall

her, too. But we’d love him more
than life. We’d coo and fuss. We’d fix
a drink after he’d gone to bed, and hold
our worries about him between us
the way we brood now on the house

we haven’t bought yet, the cats’ ages,
the trip we aren’t sure we can afford,
our own bodies’ slump into entropy.
We’d nurse him like we’ve learned
to do ourselves, be as kind as

we could manage, and only as stern
as we had to be. We’d raise him.
We won’t raise him. Instead we sit
bleary at the breakfast table with
our cloudy coffee, divining how best

to rear the confused children who live
inside us, the ones from the fairy tale
whose parents left them in a forest
without any crumbs to guide them home.

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