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Expecting Fathers by Stephen Sandy

April 03, 1988

\o7 It's not the way it was supposed to be,"

The laboring mother muttered when the neuter

Light plumed on paper toweling, fluorescent medley

Of edges in the hall half laundry and half lab.

The play-offs make more sense. Dads eddy, cowed,

In the TV lounge. They want something they can handle.

No padded diapers, their boys wear shoulder pads.

Then what is this, a cameo appearance by a primate?

I put him down too fast on the bunting in the cradle

Near the stove he'll sleep beside. His arms startle,

Reach up, catching at air; the fingers clench,

The Moro reflex, reaching for a branch.

I hear the tiny yodel, a far blood-curdling yell

As if he called out to me, shouted in fear

A half a field, not half a yard, away.

I sit back, drawing great blanks on the years to come.

From "Man in the Open Air" (Alfred A. Knopf: $16.95, cloth; $8.95, paper; 86 pp.). Stephen Sandy, born in Minneapolis, Minn., was educated at both Harvard and Yale. He has taught at Harvard, the University of Tokyo and Brown. He is currently teaching at Bennington College. Sandy's previous collections include "Stresses in the Peaceable Kingdom," "Roofs," and "Riding to Greylock." He was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize and an Ingram Merrill Award. 1987 Thomas Victor, by permission.

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