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Adopting At Our Age

This poem went places that it shouldn’t have gone

in the beer tent listening to a jazz ensemble,

who came on after the dance band

and are suffering by comparison.

I’m trying to examine the difference between

flute solos and close harmonies,

between thrown together and tightly knit,

being here for themselves or the audience.

I’m with two of my grown-up daughters

and my wife is with the foster kids

watching Maleficent at the cinema.

I’m digging the songs my dad used to sing

and thinking of the time that children thieve

and all the things we won’t achieve,

like learning how to jive and lindy hop.

I’m piling up reasons we shouldn’t adopt.


Because flowers aren’t supposed to bloom in winter.

It looked different in December

when the dark days served to blinker us

and we fought our tiny Christmas tree corner.

It was sisters skipping arm in arm

in the absence of a sibling assessment

by the Solomons at Social Services,

their swords discreetly kept from sight.

It was the country lurching to the right

and a butterfly wish to flap my wings

and make waves in some unsafeguarded centre,

feeling that we’d let them down

if we didn’t move heaven and earth

to keep them together.


Now summer shines a bulb in our faces

and mine has started to crack.

It’s when the social worker asked

if we think we’ll ever harbour some resentment;

it’s the sports day when the Downs’ Syndrome

trailed in a long way last and was clapped

all the way up the finishing straight,

while I kept my hands firmly in my pocket,

like refusing to stand for the National Anthem;

It’s the medical when the doctor found

there’s something not quite right with my heart.

Next week they’re investigating further.

I felt a little lightening, the hint of a reprieve,

but probably it’s no more than a murmur







◄ A Day Unresolved

Attention Deficit Disorder ►


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