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a blurred image of a roller coaster

A poem for my son about grace

Jacob Stratman

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“All of my heroes sit up straight.” –Gregory Alan Isakov

My son slouches when he walks,
shoulders rounded, chin jutted
forward, his self moving slow
and savvy like Cecil the Turtle,
outwitting Bugs Bunny at every

turn. If the boy knew to say,
“Ain’t I a stinka?” I bet he would.
In the church he sits, shoulder
blades pinned to the pew, enough
room between the seat and his lower

back to place a small child
or a couple of Eucharist plates.
At the altar of the rollercoaster,
the disembodied voice whispers,
“put your head back against the seat” –

the lap bar requiring our bodies
to obey 90 degrees before
we are launched 65 mph in fewer
than three seconds, and I grin,
my face flattening voluntarily

with glee as my son’s back is straight
and his chin parallel with the earth
that is now hundreds of feet below
him, his eyes directed in front –
to seek the next turn or drop or twist

with hope with hope with faith with love,
I hope. He is forced into this position,
yes, I see that, and his shoulders
will curve again as the earth curves,
as the turtle’s shell curves, keeping

him safe for now, but he did love
the ride, even when it broke
his wishes his routine his desires
and flattened him to its will.
Even then. Especially then.

a blurred image of a roller coaster

Tom Turkle, Rollercoaster Photograph courtesy of turkletom

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