The Human Line by Ellen Bass

The following is a poem from The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, 2007) by Ellen Bass.

Poem Not for My Son
There are things you can't tell
a child—they'd sit too heavily
upon him, like the crowns
of young royalty:
Tutankhamen holding up
that twelve-pound crust
of gold and emeralds
on his slender neck.

So I gaze at my boy
only when he's sleeping,
when the torrent
won't sweep him off
the cliff, when the beam
won't scorch his retina.

He works out now,
lifting cold black
barbells, his muscles rising
like good bread.

Think of every great thing:
rush of grain
through the elevator shaft,
the crush of water
fathoms down, glaciers
calving, the surge and weight
of tectonic plates. I shut
the door on my love.
Just a faint glow seeping
under the crack.

"Poem Not for My Son" from The Human Line by Ellen Bass. Copyright © 2007 by Ellen Bass. Published by Copper Canyon Press.