On the granite steps a teenage boy
who could be your son
unlaces his shoes. Through the fog
you see him, he sees you.
Quarry trees drip onto stone
such subtle invitations. You want
him to nod in recognition. He enters
the water first, keeps his head up
long enough for you to ask him
how it feels, but you don’t
break the silence between you.
Like any good mother
you let him swim all the way
to the other side and back again
without saying a word. A seagull
glides overhead. Then another
swoops, lands, dives. By the time
he gets out, towels off, and puts on
his shoes, you are on your own course,
ledge to ledge. You stop for breath,
look back and eye him heading home,
keep his blurred image with you
through the fog slowly clearing.
This son you never had,
how he grows into such
a fine young man.
If you have any comments on this poem, Kate Sontag would be pleased to hear from you.