At a COVID-delayed gathering to welcome our newest family member into the world, I both witnessed and participated in the beautiful ritual that the first stanza describes. Memory provides an obvious source for poetry, and I’m interested in how and why we recall certain events while forgetting others. Speculation on that subject forms much of the second stanza, while the joy that I observed and experienced over the few days of our family get-together led to the certainty of the poem’s conclusion.

At every bedtime, after another
day of growing toward the sun,
the infant boy is carried by one
of his young parents around the
circle of adoring adults who form
his tribe, each of whom in turn
leans forward to breathe his sweet
breath, to kiss his perfect head,
to whisper words of benediction.

None of this will remain for him
in what we think of as remembering,
but perhaps, years from now, waking
between light and shade, there will be
some strange awareness of having flown
before he walked, and always, always,
in the marrow of his being, will exist,
inexpressible but real, the surety of love.

Iain Macdonald, born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, currently lives in Arcata, California. He has earned his bread and beer in various ways, from fruit picker to factory hand, merchant marine officer to high school teacher. His first two chapbooks, Plotting the Course and Transit Report, were published by March Street Press, while a third, The Wrecker’s Yard, was released by Kattywompus Press.