Fall 2021

I Wonder If He Thought

by Steve Nickman

         when he was born
he’d been given no option
and only took the world
under advisement.

For six months he seemed to be
having a good time. He laughed
when I poked his belly,
whispered a nonsense word.

We have a photo from before
we knew what we’d given him.
Drowsing in his carriage, a yellow-
and-purple pansy in his fist.

Curiosity had him crawling
from room to room, but then
he went on strike, didn’t sit, didn’t
know us. Movement-flickers took him.

They told us molecules were camping
in his brain, blinding him, sending
him to empty space where
he’d never find us,

so we too needed to be blind. We left
him in him a kindly place, took back with us
instead a bundle of remorse.
Does he remember us? Who is he now?

We thought we heard him cry at night
from fifty miles away. Abandoned.
We might have blessed him,
blessed each other.

hide and Seek

I want them to find me. Not too soon.
I’m a good hider. Here’s a fat tree
I press the moss, It’s a pillow.
I’m safe right here.

They know I’m somewhere.
The tree is hollow. Be little, hide inside.
Now I don’t hear them call
“Come out, come out!” No voices.

Clouds make it dark. A crow
calls his friends. They all come.
Moss and crows don’t know me.
What if the others give up

and leave me here? I’d win,
I’d be the king of hiding.
but it’s colder now.
I’d have to come out

and yell, “I found myself!”
run past the black birds
to see if there was still
someone there.

Steve Nickman’s first book of poetry To Sleep with Bears (Wordtech) is forthcoming in 2022. He is a psychiatrist who has a strong interest in the experiences and dilemmas of adoptees and their families. His poetry has appeared in many magazines including Pleiades, Nimrod, and Tar River Review. Steve lives in Brookline, MA, and is a member of the Poemworks Collective of Boston.

Fall 2021