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A Poem by Sarah E. Chinn

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On the Island of Adopted Children

I.

Things no one talks about:
Family resemblance
The seashore at dusk
The cost of gasoline

 

II.

A fetus
Floating slick in expectation
How can it know that island folk
Stand three deep on the beaches
Rolling “mother,” “father,” “child” around on their tongues.

 

III.

How to get there:
Load your cargo
Climb into your canoe
Paddle hard for three days
Until you see the coastline
Marked with bonfire beacons
Thick with men and women, singly, in twos and threes.
Take each baby, wrapped in a blanket
(White bordered with pink and turquoise –
Hospitals order them by the hundredweight)
Shed a single ritual tear
Kiss each crusted, wrinkled face
Complete the transfer; take the paperwork
And paddle away
As families by the dozen
A lump of swaddled warmth radiating in crooked elbows
Wave
“Goodbye. Goodbye.”

 

IV.

What words are there for this?
Blessing.
Transaction.
Gift.
Burden.
Plenitude.

 

____________________________________________

Sarah Chinn teaches English at Hunter College, CUNY.  She recently stepped down as Executive Director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center, and is looking forward to her sabbatical to write poems and work on a new book.

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