Our eighteen-year-old daughter cringes,
scowls at the scale. Mom, I weigh 1290,
she shouts, her voice pained by a world
that’s had its foot on the scale ever since
she was born, freighted with the weight
of her birth mother’s methadone addiction.
It’s a digital scale, Sweetie,
says my wife. You weigh 129.0.
Our daughter bounds down the stairs
to where her brothers and I
are spilling soda and chips
as the Seahawks fly past the Eagles.
Dad, I lost pounds, she says.
Not I lost weight. Not I lost X pounds.
We clap and cheer for her. We haven’t
seen such a smile on her face
since the time two boys fought
over her and the boy she liked
got sent to detention. How many pounds
did you lose, Sweetie? I ask.
I don’t know. I weighed 133.
Now I weigh 129, she says.
So what’s 133 minus 129? I ask.
I don’t know, she says,
and I don’t know what the adoption blues are
except twelve bars that I fear I’ll keep
repeating longer than I can keep counting,
and I don’t know if she’ll ever leave home,
and I hope I can be someone she can count on,
that I can carry this weight which feels
ten times heavier than my own body.
Tom C. Hunley is a professor in the MFA/BA programs at Western Kentucky University. His most recent poems appeared in Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, and Michigan Quarterly Review. What Feels Like Love: New and Selected Poems is forthcoming from C&R Press.
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