Friday, August 30, 2013

Knee High to A Grasshopper

It wasn't me who left your mother
With you knee-high to a grasshopper
Fresh out of diapers
There was no more us
No more you, me, mom and the family unit

The writing on the wall of teenage lust
Became a sign over the door that read, EXIT
We grew and married as teenagers
We grew some more as parents and new adults
Our paths diverged with you in a crib

There could be no tomorrows with us as one
All my dreams of distant tomorrows
Those that would, with time, come true
Others to fade and be forgotten over laughs, tears and time
The boy in the crib starred in every one of those dreams

The Oscar speech never given
The Pulitzer never won
The Valedictorian address never read
Those were the dreams that faded, became forgotten
Now they bring a smile not for what was missed
But for what was earned in return

My memories and life with you
For you were my future, you were my son
You were what I always saw at the end of every dream
Crouching down to grasshopper height
To get a better view through a three year-old's eyes
I saw that everything old could be new again

The end of one thing doesn't mean the end of everything
You taught me that when I looked through your eyes
When I closed the door to my childhood behind me
The door to your childhood opened before us
Along the way there would be failures and successes; adventures and misadventures
We did it all together

There were times when I teetered on a cliff
When I was not at my best
Trying to make something out of nothing
Failing more often that not
Without hope but not hopeless
Because you still needed to be fed and sent to school
Because I still needed to tuck you in each night with a kiss and a secret handshake

I needed you more than you needed me
To do something right in a life full of wrongs
While you looked up to me with your home cut hair
I looked up to you as my reason for being
If I could safely get you from childhood to adulthood
With an abundance of love and support could my most cherished dream come true?

Today, distant sirens stir me from this moment
In a distant city you begin your day
In the comfort of your own home or on the road where friends will toast you
They will all wish you happy birthday but me
I remember when you were born so I remember your birthday

I'll never forget those three little words
Said by a doctor at 3:37 on a summer afternoon
"It's a boy!"
I never wished you happy birthday when you woke up as a boy
We both had to wait for that one special moment, your special moment
For the hug and the kiss and the cake and the gifts

Now it's your birthday! Now we can celebrate!
We do it by text or by phone nowadays
Our time together is now measured in hours in the course of a year
Whoever can fly into where, whenever time permits
But you know that I love you, with that I have never been shy

You raised a father, you made the man
You are given full credit for my triumphs, my failings are mine alone
My dreams still come true and you are always a part of them
From helping to paint your first house
To an afternoon swapping tales on either side of a farm tractor
As the Best Man at a certain wedding in Central Park

One night in Chicago two years in a row I get to play daddy
A walk past the waterfalls by your grandparents in spring
These are the brief moments we share and the new memories we create
While each of us moves forward with our lives
We live within each others heart, a father and his son.


  1. oh wow mark - this is really moving... so difficult but i love the making the best of it - and it's so precious what you got...

  2. Mark, This moved me intensely. To begin with, the title gave me a moment back to my moments with my grandmother and I smiled. Then I read your poem and understood completely. Even with the sad moments, I felt the love, regrets and joy as it reached conclusion. Incredible.

  3. dang. nicely done man...def moving...its a hard thing the breaking of a family....but in the after you do what you least the good ones do....

  4. I like the deep and personal thoughts of being a father and what the child has/is means to you ~ This line struck me most:

    You raised a father, you made the man

    Thank you for sharing this ~

  5. Great line "You raised a father...made a man"-- really boils it down. Very candid personal poem here, thanks for sharing ~peace, Jason

  6. Mark, I love this. Each line a gem. I feel you as a mother of a twenty seven year old. I miss him so much and I realize that he is a grown man but he's my baby. He made me a mom and the woman that I've become. I just adore your poem.

  7. That is extremely beautiful I truly wish I had the opportunity to raise my my son was able to do that for me after only 51 days of life..his name is Ryan..