The outlier in the family, you defy attempts to redirect your attention–
our miracle baby, more gregarious than your parents and sister,
the rest of us being first children. For years you performed
on the stage and soccer field and in the classroom,
and now you lead your charges in the Michigan woods.

When your sister left for boarding school,
you transferred your sweetness to the cats,
feeding them, replacing their litter, and taking them outside.
You walked with Pop, and challenged him at chess.

I wondered whether you were clairvoyant:
cannily targeting me like Machiavelli
planning a campaign toward your desired end—
a package of Pokémon cards or 20 more minutes on the computer.

At ten you wrote from camp in a penciled scrawl:
“Even though this is a few days late, I just went to the Ice Cream Social.
I GOT A DATE!!! You know Kira from the Stone Hotel?
She asked if I could dance with her. So we danced
but we did not hold hands. It was fun and the music was good.
After Kira’s friends came and wanted to dance with her,
another girl wanted to dance. How could I turn her down?
So I danced with her too but mostly Kira. I had a lot of fun and a good time.”

For a while, your humor was sassy, even snarky.
Yet the boy who drew cartoon cats that said, “Hug me!”
now offers me gentles embraces.

Over six feet tall, eager to move beyond what you already know—
you’ve visited Spain, Portugal, and Japan, Ohio, and Tennessee—
impatient to discover your vocation. You wonder
whether the world will continue to bend to your will
as you seek your fate. We were proud of you then
and we are proud of you now, patrolling the waterfront.