When I first started dating Paul, oh about twenty-one years ago, I was immediately smitten. But I had seen a little bit of the underside of the world by that time and kept waiting for the moment when he would reveal to me some big secret, some something that would mark him as less perfect than I imagined him to be. I spun all sorts of scenarios in my mind, and the one my psyche seemed most attached to was that either he was married, or that he had some kids out there somewhere that I would be asked to love.
As it turns out, there was no wife or kids. He really was perfect. And even if there had been kids out there, he still would have been perfect. But it probably would have been more challenging to mesh our lives.
Twenty-one years later I am still fascinated by this role of stepparent, and how it can play out in a million different ways, depending on personality and circumstances and other factors. In my mind, I love those imaginary children beyond belief, because they are his. But who's to say? I haven't walked in those shoes.
Which I guess is why I was continually moved to tears when I read Rick Bragg's latest book THE PRINCE OF FROGTOWN.
Here's the description on the back cover: "Inspired by Rick Bragg's love for his stepson, THE PRINCE OF FROGTOWN also chronicles his own journey into fatherhood, as he learns to avoid the pitfalls of his forebearers. With candor, insight, and tremendous humor, Bragg seamlessly weaves these luminous narrative threads together and delivers an unforgettable rumination about fathers and sons."
I love this. LOVE it. This book makes me want to write. This book reminds me of all the reasons we MUST write. And all those section called "The Boy"? I have listened to them again and again. And then I bought the book in print so I could read them again and again. Check it out.
And for Poetry Friday, I'd like to share a poem about a stepmother from my latest collection THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS. Don't forget to visit Liz in Ink for Roundup!
Anne Moynet Audubon, Long Before Birds of America
This boy would dart off before dawn,
climb trees, examine eggs, take out
his little pencil and draw the birds in flight.
When I’d meet him at the arbor with tea
and cookies, he’d share the bounty
of pockets: egg shells, nests of curling
leaves, feathers of every color. So what
if his cheeks stayed smudged and he rarely
made it in time for supper? For those
of you who’ll say, he was not yours,
I ask you: Does the Earth not belong
to the sky? Does the shore not love
the ocean, even as it crashes upon it?
Does the bluebird not sit on the nest,
even if the egg is speckled instead of pale?
- Irene Latham