I wrote this poem for Ben when he turned 25. Every mom should have a Ben for a son. I am so blessed.
For Ben on Your 25th Birthday
Only suckling or
holding you against
my belly and breasts would quiet you.
Not even your thumbs
(you did not care which)
eased your cries
in those first few months.
When finally the crying stopped you emerged
determined to take on the world.
That Benjamin, we called you.
“Look, I can ride a 2-wheeler
and I’m only 3,” you shouted
with pale hair like fine corn silk
flying and huge hazel eyes
seeing nothing but the road.
You lived your young life in competition
reading the most books,
writing the most journal pages,
earning the most As,
running the fastest 10K,
collecting the most Garbage Pail Kids
and hitting the best
backhand down the line.
You loved the pressure
It made you nervous
(I said excited)
It was your fuel
You had to be the best.
Your tennis consumed you and me
We drove miles and miles
You in your trademark baseball cap
battled your opponents while
I battled freeway phobia.
Not quite 8, you overcame 1 to 6
in a 2nd set tie break
to win your first championship trophy.
They called you “Iceman” as
you coolly walked off the court.
It was not all serious.
You wrote the scripts and then filmed
Andy, Dan, Cam, Josh or Brad
walking down the long hall,
gun in hand,
ready to pounce on the next victim
or pretend to throw him over the deck
In every film someone went
over the deck.
For such a gentle, sweet boy,
you sure loved violence.
You also loved to mimic
Hoffman’s “I’m an excellent driver”
and the Three Amigos.
You made us snicker
when you called someone
an emma, a foof, a donkey, a nick
or cute and funny and silly and nice.
But I was most charmed when you
touched my face and said,
“your cheeks are nice and soft, are mine?”
or “come sleep with me for a minute”
when I would wake you
to get ready for school.
Little did I know that
that early play acting
was practice for your passion.
Arms uplifted, legs spread wide
Speaking in a loud, deep voice that comes
from the bottom of your belly
your presence fills the stage.
Lean, firm body
enclosed in a skin-tight suit
the color of a ripe peach
Finger and toe nails painted wine red
like the deep stain on your lips
Hair sticking up like the spokes of a bike
you cartwheel across the floor
You are now where you most want to be.
As your high school teacher said
you have the world on a string.
Keep a tight hold
It’s all yours for the taking
Just like you willed yourself to be
taller than your dad
You will be a success someday
in whatever you choose to do.
Happy 25th birthday, Ben.