NDJ:6 Gina Sangster, LICSW

To My Son, Age 13

Leaving the yellow kitchen,
the black and calico cats
prowling for more breakfast
— my female cat waiting
till the younger boys have their fill

And my son,
wrapped in a bath towel,
his blonde hair spikey wet
— turning to the sound of my voice
reminding him of things for the day:
the check for karate class,
lunch money, to feed the cats
because I won’t be home till Sunday
He always says “I love you” unprompted,
the most affectionate in his dispersed family
— older sisters in New York
and North Carolina building
their young lives brick by brick,
his Dad only ten blocks away
but in another world
he inhabits a few nights a week

He comes home to me, his true home,
his room painted gray and black
with details of red, the colors
of his martial art — my son, Shodan,
newly christened Black Belt,
proud and humble at the same time,
bowing to his mentors,
holding the door open,
now remembering to pick up his dishes
and hang his wet towel

He turns to the sound of my voice, his music — Kanye West or Naz or Tabi Bonney in the background
— telling me “I love you” as we say goodbye,
my son, on the cusp of being the man
I imagine