Page Count: 74
Publication Date: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Cover Artwork: “Painted by Spring” by Andreja Hojnik Fišić
About this Book
Thousands of childless couples in North America are increasingly turning to international adoption in order to become parents. While there are many wonderful things about transracial international adoption, it is—at its heart—a breaking away. To adopt a child from another country necessarily means taking them away from their culture, their language, and their ancestral background. As the child grows up, what affect does this have? What does it mean to look across a border and bring a young life towards you? In this new collection, Patrick Hicks explores the thorny connections between home and away, blood and belonging, fatherhood and place, and he examines what it means to be a family. Full of humor, sensitivity, and startling honesty, these poems are about one man’s journey to understand his son.
Praise for Adoptable
“Adoptable is a tender, hopeful book of a father’s observational grace. A heartwarming gift from the poet to his young son, this book bursts with love while knowing that ‘at the heart of very adoption...is a breaking apart.’ From South Korea to South Dakota, these touching poems offer an accurate window into the experience of fatherhood and adoption. The son’s bright light shines on each and every page, and just as Hicks hopes his son will one day find ‘the galaxy widening before him,’ readers of this book will discover the same: a galaxy in the poet’s love for his son. These poems, this poet, this son—treasures that will expand your heart.”
“Adoptable is a powerful and moving book of poems by Patrick Hicks that focuses on the adoption of a Korean child and the way the narrator and his wife become as connected to this child as any birth parent possibly could be. These poems are lyrical praise songs to the family relationship that emerges and to the power of love. The poems are perfectly crafted and the endings simply lift off the page. Hicks is an amazing and exquisite poet.”
“‘At the heart of every adoption is a ripping, a knifepoint, a breaking apart, / like cracking open an oyster” writes Patrick Hicks in his stunningly moving new collection, Adoptable. These poems ride that knifepoint edge into the vulnerable center of the poet’s experience adopting his Korean-born son, Sean Min-gyu, with raw honesty and humble compassion. Adoptable explores the complexities of adoptive diaspora in deft language of fierce silver clarity, wit, and unabashed tenderness—a father’s poems written in an adopted tongue to hold and encircle his beautiful boy with the twice-cut umbilical cord, and to inscribe the kind of love so big it reaches across borders, across oceans, across time.”
“‘And when you find me,’ Patrick Hicks writes, of playing hide-and-seek with his young son, ‘it is like a lock clicking open.’ This wonder—it’s ours, too, as Hicks clicks open the locks of the human heart in his latest, loveliest collection, Adoptable, in which, like the heart, we find wide, wind-swept rooms of kindness, humor, grief, worry, confusion, and—most especially—of the good luck of being alive, of stunned, staggering wonder.”
Patrick Hicks is the author of eight books, including The Commandant of Lubizec, This London, and Finding the Gossamer. His work has appeared in some of the most vital literary journals in America, including Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, and many others. He has been nominated seven times for the Pushcart Prize, been a finalist for the High Plains Book Award, and also the Gival Press Novel Award. He has won the Glimmer Train Fiction Award as well as a number of grants, including ones from the Bush Artist Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the Writer-in-Residence at Augustana College and also a faculty member at the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College. His first collection of short stories, The Collector of Names, is forthcoming with Schaffner Press.
Read a sample from this book
on the night my internationally adopted son arrived
After we picked you up at the Omaha airport,
we clamped you into a new car seat
and listened to you yowl
beneath the streetlights of Nebraska.
Our hotel suite was plump with toys,
ready, we hoped, to soothe you into America.
But for a solid hour you watched the door,
shrieking, Umma, the Korean word for mother.
Once or twice you glanced back at us
and, in this netherworld where a door home
had slammed shut forever, your terrified eyes
paced between the past and the future.
Umma, you screamed. Umma!
But your foster mother back in Seoul never appeared.
Your new mother and I lay on the bed,
cooing your birth name,
until, at last, you collapsed into our arms.
In time, even terror must yield to sleep.
Sometimes, when you’re sleeping,
and the furnace purrs against winter,
I wonder if we did the right thing,
taking you away from Korea.
At the heart of every adoption
is a ripping, a knifepoint, a breaking apart,
like cracking open an oyster.
When you snore at midnight,
I think of your other possible lives
with a family in Stockholm or London.
You could have been raised near the sea,
or at the foot of a volcano.
But instead, you got us.
Did we do the right thing,
importing you to the other side of the world,
bringing you to the prairie and the ice?
As your bones push into the future,
and the netting of your heart widens,
you will jigsaw these truths into a mirror.
Your family past, so unknown, will make you
feel snapped. Broken.
But until then, I have to tell you
how much I love playing hide-and-seek,
how you run into a bedroom, looking
for me under a quilt,
in a wardrobe,
how you peek into a closet,
searching here and there for your father.
And when you find me,
it is like a lock clicking open.
Today, the truth is just child’s play—
all you have to do is count to ten,
and open your eyes.
“Again,” you shout. “Again!”
And so I hide. I wait in the dark,
like an easy answer.
When He is an Old Man
Long after my body has been turned into ash,
and his own children have walked into middle-age,
they will eventually gather around his hospital bed.
My son, an old man with papery skin,
will be hooked up to an octopus of machines.
Tubes will push fluid into his body—
his ribcage will rise and fall. His heart will blip.
He might be scared, but also content
with the arc and burn of his life.
I will stand at the foot of his bed
just as I did when he was a baby,
watching him breathe.
As nurses rush in for his final moments,
I’d like to put my cool hand on his cheek,
and whisper into his ear that his daddy still loves him.
If there is another life, I’ll be waiting for him
just as I did at the Omaha airport when we first met.
I’ll be the one craning my neck at the new arrivals,
waving my hands like crazy, ecstatic at last
to welcome him home.
Copyright © Patrick Hicks 2014