Cruel {gn13:16}


It's sort of cruel
to make such an outrageous promise—
innumerable children
for a man who doesn't even have one

for a man who feels the relentless beat
of a childless father's heart in his chest
to promise more daughters than dust is cruel.

It's sort of cruel
to make such an outrageous promise—
dirty diapers and sloppy kisses and giggles
for a woman whose body long ago
stopped reminding her like clockwork
of her power to deliver new life

for a woman who has felt the monthly sting of bitterness
diffuse into the dull ache of perpetual barrenness
to promise more sons than sand is cruel.

Who makes such outrageous promises, anyway?
Who messes with people like that?
And once you're settled so squarely in the realm of the inconceivable,
where does it stop?

You might as well claim the power
to muzzle hurricanes
to disembowel suffering
to dissolve brickish hearts
to bring back the dead
   AS IF
   the grave had a revolving door

What on earth would drive you
to guarantee the one thing that could
answer the lonely echo of a desperate soul?

What in heaven's name would possess you
to make such an outrageous promise?

It's sort of cruel, you know—
   that is . . .
   unless you can deliver.