For the Children I Will Never Have

Four Sonnets

i. Esther Elyse Payne

I say goodbye. A girl I’ve never met
has taken residence within my chest.
She’s no mere fiction lost to time, regret;
no, this is concrete, bone, a beating breast
that comes to me, a distant visioned day
when I, in full maturity, can be
adult, a man at peace — but now, at play.
This never ends: as long as I can dream,
she dances in these warm suburban climes,
without my defects — not a mortal flaw.
But she, a specter, aging out of time,
is slashing at my heart, a lovely claw.

Perhaps this is the measure of a dad,
 to take the lovely and live with the sad.

ii. Laurelai Imogen Payne

I live my fictions and write out my dreams.
Perhaps this can explain the clarity
with which I see the years ahead; the seams
progress until they end, a year unseen.

And that will be an end, the bitter first,
where something falls apart, they close my eyes,
and load me, pliant, in the waiting hearse,
to bury me, with no one there to cry.
But then the second comes: they lose my name
no longer on the thoughts or tongues of men.
I have no place within the earthly frame,
and it will be as if I’ve never been.

Perhaps this is the measure of a dad,
 to take the lovely and live with the sad.

iii. Gregory Tobias Payne

I walk a rebel cause, defying life,
the barest mean of science: procreate!
From ooze to fire, from chaos into strife
are we not simply meant to replicate
ourselves anew? That little carbon strand
that tells us what we are, what will will be,
the only thing we pass from hand to hand,
the only part of us the future sees.

Am I a failure? Scientific lips
that preach a godless rock, dusty and round
would say that I am nothing, just a blip,
mutation buried in unhallowed ground.

Perhaps this is the measure of a dad,
 to take the lovely and live with the sad.

iv. Marcus Donald Payne

I have been told to wait upon the Lord,
to wait, as days progress to empty years — 
a luxury I could never afford — 
but now the skies are bitter cold and clear:

This is my life: I’ve held it in my hand
and waited for the Ghost to guide my way,
but now I see my failures, all this sand
between my feet, and now the dimming day.

Denying years, I cling to foolish youth
and see myself alive in years gone by
unwilling to admit the lonely truth:
that I have barely lived; my life’s a lie.

Perhaps this is the measure of a man:
 to live the years with peace, howe’er he can.