Self-Portrait at Birth

I had two names
before birth, one
for each possible sex,
but since I entered the world
my mother — unsedated,
watching the whole
thing happen
in a mirror,
as she would tell me
years later — saw
my penis tucked
between my legs like
a shrunken hitch-
hiker’s thumb & so
was able to eliminate one
of the names even
before I had fully arrived.
This was back when
the father wasn’t allowed
anywhere near the delivery room.
Dad took my precocious
two-year-old brother off
to the airport to watch
the planes, & after it was over,
Steve got on the phone
to the hospital & told Mom
all about about the 727s: how
like dinosaurs they lumbered
down the runway
turned & started back
gathering speed
& the flaps on the wings
went down & the front
wheels left the ground
the nose pointing up & then
the rest of it
the whole big plane
just going up
into the air.



  1. Leslee · November 17, 2008

    Why am I not surprised? About your mother watching, I mean, although coming in back-assward also seems appropriate. What time was it? (curious) and your other name…?

  2. Dave Bonta · November 17, 2008

    The time was an hour or two past midnight, I think. I don’t remember which name she’d picked out if I was a girl. Possibly Karen. If you’re really curious, I can ask her.

    Thanks for reading.

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