thing about your children is that you love their little
bodies. You stroke the fine texture of their skin, you
run your hands over their sturdy, delicate arms and legs,
and you gaze at their clever little faces. You talk to
them and sing and play pattycake and peekaboo. You wrap
them in blankets, mash their bananas, wipe their noses
and change their diapers, cut the crusts off their sandwiches
and devil their eggs, peel their apples, fry their French
toast. You find clothes for the adorable bodies and shoes
for the adorable fat feet. You buy beds when they grow
too big for cribs, you wash their hair without getting
too much shampoo in their eyes. You count their toes and
teach them to swim and bring them to the doctor for their
When they get bigger, they take their bodies away from
you. No more stroking, no more frolics in the bath. They
keep secrets. They eat abominable things. They have definite,
repulsive ideas about their hair.
a certain point some of them became punks — not
just a style of music or jewelry but what seemed like
an attack on the body you adored. A peculiar rage gleamed
from their eyes and they went far away to places where
you couldn’t, daren’t, follow.
rings and studs pierced their tender flesh.
They dyed their hair and spiked it with egg whites and
gels, and as if that didn’t say Do Not Touch loudly
enough they wore more spikes around their wrists, ankles,
necks. They dressed in black rags and in leather and metal,
their clothes had zippers where you never saw zippers
before. Their music sounded harsh and ugly to your ears,
and the names of bands frightened you: Cannibal Corpse,
The Damned, Skullfuck. They danced wildly and hurled their
bodies into ungentle hands
stopped smoking and they started. You worked out and they
watched TV. They brought home girlfriends who painted
their fingernails black, boyfriends who wore mascara.
Did you want to know what they did with those friends?
You did not. They told you what a skullfuck means, and
you glimpsed the Divine Marquis in a black tee shirt.
children made friends with needles and they spoke
an amputated language
knew that it is possible to say all kinds of things without
words, and that each generation finds its own way to appal
its parents. You remembered your own parents yelling and
crying. You remembered how you stopped trying to reach
them across the chasm of their squareness.
but but, you said, my battles were over language —
politics — style. Your children made friends with
needles and they spoke an amputated language in which
you became ’rents. They smoked and sulked and you
mourned the lost perfection of their flesh, the bodies
they festooned with chains. Our flesh. Your flesh.