One of the Many Reasons I Married You
Remember the boat my son built
in his mind when he was eight—
sturdy and sea-worthy, though not
with more than two people in it?
Every few days, he’d climb in,
have us join him,
and ask me to choose.
What he didn’t yet know
is that I’m the daughter
of a woman who gave up her children
for a man with no place
in the skiff of his heart
for kids who weren’t his.
I will never be her, I told myself
over and over. So whenever
he asked, it was you I threw
into the churning waters he imagined.
And you, who as a boy his age
nearly lost your life in a camp-side lake,
drowned as often as you had to
for him to feel safe.
Ona Gritz’s collection of essays, Present Imperfect, is out now from Poets Wear Prada. She is also the author of Geode, a Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award finalist, On the Whole: a Story of Mothering and Disability, and a middle grade novel, August Or Forever, forthcoming from Fitzroy Books in February. Ona’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, River Teeth, The Bellevue Literary Review, Catamaran Literary Reader, and previously in One Art. Recent honors include two Notable mentions in Best American Essays, a Best Life Story in Salon, and a winning entry in The Poetry Archive Now: Wordview 2020 project.