Intro to Literature Virgin returns!
Waiting with Two Members of a Motorcycle Gang for My Child to Be Born
by Stephen Dunn.
I was talking to “The Eliminators”
when you were born,
two of them, high as slag heaps and
uncles to be,
all in black for the occasion,
All you wanted was out;
you couldn’t have known that you
when you came, or that your father
was let loose
from graduate school, a believer
I expected “The Eliminators” to
disappear, snuffed out
by a stronger force, a white tornado
of my own.
That’s not what happens, though,
as you will learn. They smiled when
they heard of you
and shook my hand. And another time
have been my head. May you turn
stone, my daughter,
into silk. May you make men better
than they are.
How could I resist that title??
I do love the image that this poem brings to mind. Three brothers sitting in a hospital room, awaiting the arrival of a newborn baby. Two are hard-core bikers; one was the scholar (although I am not sure if he left or flunked graduate school in pursuit of other things). As kids, they would have wrestled to show affection– I assume that the bikers are the older brothers as they most likely headlocked the younger and tousled his hair as a way to show affection. Instead, now, their brother is a man, a father, and the two bikers shake his hand as an agreement that he is now a man, a father, and they are uncles to a newborn baby girl. It is this new life which makes these tough men turn to mush, knowing that there is a new life in the family, a frail baby, and thus their tough image is not needed but rather, nuturing father figures are brought forward rather than the emotionless men. And for this, the brother is thankful to his daughter because it was with her birth that she united all three stood on equal ground of respect. No more were images or differences or conflicts regarding lifestyle, but instead three men who were ecstatic about their new roles in life.
I really liked this poem.