In San Miguel, two iced tequilas in, my friend
tells me her infant brother died only days after birth.
The announcements were mailed out
despite complications, It’s a boy trumping fear,
as if hope could ward off an incubator stay
or the vast array of tubes and devices all working
to manage an ailing boy’s
breath and blood. My friend’s parents rarely spoke
of her brother. Years later, she searched
old medical records to find out what happened.
She sketches me a worry of days:
endless tests proctored, sad looks from nurses,
hushed words of doctors who finally explained
to her parents that among their boy’s many problems,
a genital deformity: micro-penis.
Should he live, a choice: flood him with hormones
and raise him a girl, or…?
Or let nature take him as nature nearly had. Should he live?
Their choice? The dice? A nudge?
My friend couldn’t say for sure. Who among us could
tell which fear finally exhausts us?
My friend’s brother starved from a tube taken out
or perhaps his lungs failed first. Exactitude
is no more recorded than our parents’ private words,
choices that might savage an alien boy’s
flesh and blood. Any wonder the marriage failed?
Each time a cell divides is a new chance
for the world to go wrong. I’m lucky not to have had to draw
such large lines between loves.
The sun is going down in our Mexican town.
Our drinks are a watery, diluted gold.
I reach to take my friend’s hand, think better, and lift my glass instead.