Letter to Elliot

My son wanted to know
if life has meaning.
I said, “Life has the meaning
that you give it.”

But how could he know
what it felt like
the first time I kissed his mother
over a pint of cherry ice cream
or the clap of thunder
that accompanied his entrance
into the world.
The way he looked at us
with eyes
that were but minutes old
and yet seemed more ancient
than words.

He’s not yet felt
the internal flight
of a friend with a guitar
or the power of a current
that sweeps a canoe
along the churning brown waters
of the Amazon
and the thrill of jumping out to swim
with piranhas and pink dolphins.

I wonder if
in some hidden corner of his mind
he’s contracting his muscles
already preparing for pain
at age 10.
If he feels childhood slipping away,
cynicism rushing in
to fill the hole that was once
Santa and pets that spoke to you
at midnight.

Hang on, I want to say,
there’s more to it than that.
The sun is just coming up
and its promising pastels
softer than your mother’s lips
are now brightening
the entire horizon.

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