Never mind the mistakes Mother and Father made;
the first of them may have been the decision
to make you, to bring out of Eternity’s
                                                          Waiting Room
that thing you’ve been calling your soul,
plucked like some arcade prize in the Big
Claw Game of their love.
                                      O, how they dressed you in miniature
clothes, fed you human food,
brushed your hair, mussed it up, held you
in their hands like a bright souvenir.

                                                          And during those moments
of raw anger — when they channeled their lousy
childhoods through you and railed against
all the things they’d never had — they cursed you

with their wish for better lives, and you could
answer their inconsolable wanting only
with your tears, until at last
                                        they spoke with tenderness,
                                                                                or something like it,
and maybe didn’t completely regret
                                        the few lustful thrusts
                                        that launched you into your body.

                                                                               Or so you thought

until the teenage years, when you
examined every incomprehensible gift
under the sterile spotlight of what you felt you deserved
and discovered not only did
                                                          they not know you,
but you could never know them, and so you left

as soon as possible, for a bus station, a campus, minimum
wage, the first available spouse, and it’s only now, after
some time spent before the blank stares of your own
                                                                              little ungratefuls,

that you remember your mother and father and
                    how no one else ever stood on the front porch
                                                          and called your name into the dark.