Fostering: an Ode

by Glen Martin Fitch


I wish this baby,
flannel, oatmeal, bells, balloons
a kite, a cat, a bike, a phone.
I wish her tryouts, outfits, ocean swells
and dances, love notes,
babies of her own.
But dare I wish her fevers, bruises, tears?
(Who knows what trials life will make her face?
Strip searches, sirens?)
When you hear her fears I hope
you'll help
(or not help, as the case may be)
her try until she fails and then despairs
and asks and learns and tries again.


Your burden's great.
Some parent's can't adjust.
A few (indignant, ignorant)
deprive their own
(as they were once?)
betray their trust.
(In hunger, silence, filth
some fail to thrive!)
Kids cower, cringe from curses, glaring eyes.
The slaps and belts kill confidence,
pierce pride.
If we are only what we know,
then lies and threats they'll learn
(and teach).

Some bold, some snide,
their spirit wastes away while wasting time.
Souls curse to cruelty,
cowardice and crime.


I'm sure you wish this baby
Party clothes, recitals, ribbons,
cars, diplomas, deeds.
By now I'm sure her nursery
overflows with books and puzzles
years beyond her needs.
It's tempting
(gardeners graft and florists dye)
to change, improve
(each flaw makes you despair)
The best are mere cosmetics feats.
(Why try?)
Because her first milk tooth,
her first gray hair
(and when and where)
already are foretold within each cell,
within the spiral code.


Some babes are colicky,
some chatty, dumb.
She'll walk, she'll talk
(no matter what you do)
when ready.
(No doll. No slate.)

She’ll become her own self
with (or else in spite of) you.
So while there's much you cannot do,
there's much you can
(and must).
Good goals, safe limits,
fair, respectful choices
(just your ear, your touch) all help.
She might (with your concern and care)
transcend misfortune,
sail through strife, create her chances,
master skills, transform her fate.


Her needs are simple,
water, food and air.
Her tasks, to eat and shit
and sleep and dream (or scream).
She needs you now
(while in your care)
to keep her warm and dry.
All she'll achieve in life
is based on these.
So let her be,
because her business now is to perceive,
test time and space
and distance, gravity
to learn to sing and count
and climb and slide and spell,
to learn to value, judge, decide.


If not from you,
from whom will she begin
to master brushes, thank-yous;
learn to live with others,
right from wrong,
and how to win, to lose,
confront, apologize, forgive?
No gift or gadget
could inspire her to inspire herself,
help her experience the world,
create her memories.
For you can make her feel she matters,
find a sense of worth, of family;
and (knowing she is loved and loving)
dance her destiny.


Glen Martin Fitch's picture

Glen Fitch is a 16th Century poet lost in the 21st Century. Born near Niagara Falls, educated in the Catskills, thirty years on the Monterey Bay he now lives in Palm Springs. Retail not academics has paid the bills. Someday he will finish Spenser's "The Fairie Queene."

Last updated August 23, 2011