Rita Dove

Variation on Gaining a Son

That shy angle of his daughter’s head —
where did they all learn it?
And her soldier at tender attention,
waiting for the beloved to slide out
beneath the veil. Thomas knew

what he’d find there — a mocking smile, valiant
like that on the smooth face of the young sergeant
drilled neatly through the first minute of battle.
Women called it offering up a kiss.

He watched the bridegroom swallow.
For the first time Thomas felt like
calling him Son.