First-Born

Fourteen years this
month since she first
took note of Capricorn
wheeling his ancient
cryptogram again and again

across winter skies and
ushering her child into the
world. He never seemed
to mind sharing his show
with Christmas, probably
felt in his younger years

a jolly Jesus-camaraderie,
a knowing unalloyed by
age and sophistication that
his coming too was heralded

by all the glitter and fanfare
of late November on.
Lately, though, his years rest
not so blithely on his widening

shoulders. She looks at his stoic
profile and cannot tell whether
the ache struggling in the space
between is hers or his. Not so unlike

that night fourteen years ago, then.
She rode shotgun while he crested
and retreated, balling her body into
a ferocious skein, then unraveling

her, limp with a wimpering
gratitude. She listened through
her silent tempest to a song playing on
the radio, Elton John channeling

a dying son’s demand that
his father hear him and know him
before he was gone. She found its dark

and soaring melody fitting
somehow, and she never hears
it even now without feeling
herself come undone.

But what did such a paean
of loss have to do, after all,
with what followed for her?
The compact heft of his rosy
body, those exquisitely turned
fingers and filigree hair.
That first night—o holy—she ever
knew the presence of grace.

But it comes to her now—
that dear and exasperating
profile, aloof and resolute—
this sweeping tsunami of animal devotion—
the darkest deeps of the farthest reaches
of the night that want to claim him as
if she was never there at all:

Maybe this is what she hearkened to
years ago in that old song, as her body,
so out of control, propelled her
and her beautiful boy into this tangled
dark and dazzling hereafter.