His essay on post-modernism, carefully crafted, well reasoned, neatly typed,

         sits on the living room rug next to yesterday’s dirty socks.

To the side are tossed a draft of a college application, a comic book, and his jacket,

            with the cigarettes indiscreetly peeping out of the side pocket.

A cursory glance in his room reveals nothing but clutter—the condoms and contraband

            are hidden from view, the stuffed bear sits sadly on a shelf.


A month ago he looked at me, realized it was over, and became suddenly polite.

I know that politeness.  

Thirty five years ago I was polite to my father

            that last six months before I left him forever.  

Thirty five years ago I was polite to my mother,

            sitting in the back yard as we drank ice tea together

                        and looked at the stars.

Six months left now, so he kisses me formally on the cheek

            before going out with his friends.


He is up.   Grown up. 

Brilliant, disorganized, focused, narcissistic, independent, fragile.




Thirty-five years ago I didn’t have a clue.

His skills are better than mine were.

His outcomes are beyond my control.

My love goes with him.




© Jean M. Campbell 2004