'Little one, it starts with a heart'

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It must be one of the great mercies of life that time provides us with the magical capacity to turn memories of the complete alarm of caring for an infant child into a delightful bit of nostalgia. Adrian Matejka manages to capture both the splendor and bewilderment of early fatherhood in this tender poem.



by Adrian Matejka

Your eyes close as soon as I put you in the plastic
moon of a car seat. Connect the seatbelts, check
the seat-to-car belts. Face turned to one side, brown
like mine. Fists instead of hands just like me. Is this
all you got from me? At least the seat is installed right
thanks to a fireman at Station 37. At least you smile
when you sleep & sleep like it’s your job since I still
don’t know what I’m supposed to do when you wake
up. In your dream of passing cars & Oregon hills
underneath us, I sing a made-up song while Federico
Aubele & the car’s intemperate hum really lullaby:
Little one, this is a start. Little one, it starts with a heart.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Adrian Matejka, 'Up, Up from Daydreams/Lullaby' from The Chattahoochee Review (Fall 2019/Winter 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Adrian Matejka and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska

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