Responsible Person

Responsible Person


Isaiah has made a Responsible Person,  

big as life, and pinned him to the wall 

over his bed.   


The teacher said, It’s you, but in the future, 

as she passed around the crayons, 

the safety scissors. 


 That was when he was eight, and his father 

 still lived at home. The future, he knew, 

 just waited around  


 for you to get there, like your birthday,

  or the fractions at the back of Our Numerical World— 

“not a thing, a part of a thing.”   


We stand together at the door to his room,

 Isaiah’s father and I—not his mother,

  the woman after his mother— 


  and study the Responsible Person. 

 Smiling, square-shouldered, with large brown 

 shoes, he looks, we agree, like someone   


you could count on, one of the numbered 

good on which the world depends, a man 

secure in every part of himself,    


with two paper legs strong enough to hold him,  

each small tear repaired from the back, 

 so it doesn’t show.  


-- from Now, Now.  Copyright © 2013. Used with permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.