The older children are nervous about the newer children. When we take them to the
nursery, they sob louder than the babies. “There are so many of them,” they cry. “How
much love will you have left for us?” We look around in our bags, pull out toys and
makeup and tissues and car keys, and they say “Things? Things! You think we’re going
to mistake shoddy materialisms for love?” And the babies say to their brothers and
sisters, “In time, eventually, you will.” A kid tugs at my arm, he says, “You better be
carrying a puppy in that bag of yours.”
The father you should have had becomes your lawyer. You commit more crimes,
complicate your transactions, just to spend more time with him. When you call him with
your one and only phone call, he’ll tell you he kept supper in the oven for you, and that
he loves you and he knows you’re going to make it. When you go to the playground, you
wish his office were nearby, and that, ignoring an important client, he would stare out the
window just to watch you sell pot by the swings.
Hugh Behm-Steinberg is the author of Shy Green Fields (No Tell Books) and The Opposite of Work (JackLeg Press), as well as three Dusie chapbooks, Sorcery, Good Morning! and The Sound of Music. Recipient of NEA and Wallace Stegner Fellowships, he's a member of the non-ranked faculty collective bargaining team at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where he edits the journal Eleven Eleven.
— posted November 2016