Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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I take my son into the dusk,
under trees still heavy
with the season’s first rain.
We watch as the entire
face of the moon darkens,
like a child with a bad cold.
I show him — my right hand,
the earth, hides my left, the moon,
from the sun, my son.
He has a book that shows
the solar system, so he knows
that the moon rotates around the earth,
just as the mom orbits the son.
“Where is the earth?” he wants
to know. “Which earth?” I ask.
“The one in the sky,” he says,
pointing at an invisible planet
in the fragrant emptiness
beyond the trees, the one
blocking the sun’s light
and giving the moon a chill.
“You’re standing on it,” I say.
He looks at me, perhaps wondering
if all adults can lie so easily.
I don’t know if The Sun is considered appropriate reading material for boys aged nine to fourteen, but I can tell you that my sons read it constantly, and are the better for it. After school today I pull out the January 2006 issue and read Lee Rossi’s poem “Early Space Travel” to my nine-year-old over brownies. Then we read Sunbeams, his favorite. He likes the Ann Landers quote best: “Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” My eighth-grader adores Readers Write and anything by Sparrow, so “Why I Am Not President” is a real treat for him.
My fourteen-year-old, a cello player, Boy Scout, wrestler, aspiring writer, and churchgoer, steals The Sun when it comes, and I have to steal it back from his incredibly messy room. He always turns to Sy Safransky’s Notebook first, so he is disappointed that it’s not there. He pictures Sy as a young man, maybe twenty-one, wise and patient. This month he reads Cheryl Strayed’s “The Boy with Blue Hair” to me, deleting the F-word for his mom. He is sad that anyone would consider using heroin.
I don’t know what your magazines go through in other homes. At our house, they are lugged on vacations and camping trips, and even have to spend long periods of time in the bathroom, being read by a boy at his leisure.