7:1: “Anyone’s Child”, by C.A. Gardner

7:1: “Anyone’s Child”, by C.A. Gardner
They say anyone can have a child these days—
Anyone who’s passed the test,
Proven nurturing nature, competence, patience, desire to teach—
The old virtues. Compassion is nice,
But not required. More important
To show stability, self-worth, respect for others.

Anyone can have a child,
Anyone who truly wants one
For all the right reasons.
They’ll take you to the lab, match you up,
Put you under.
Motherhood is tough work,
But they’ll make it easy if they can,
Easy as planting a sapling
Then standing back to watch it grow.

They know what colors the flowers will be,
The shape of the petals,
The texture of the leaves.
They can’t predict the way the tree
Will sprawl up toward heaven,
Nor what dreams I’ll have standing under it,
Watching white blossoms rain down like snow.
Perhaps, bewitched by beauty—
The pale petals and smooth, papery bark,

Twisting dark on a cloudy day—
I won’t think to wonder, in my gratitude,
About the seed from which the beauty sprang,
About the pedigree of dam and sire,
Or the bumblebee who wet its feet
Bringing all this to life.
Why should I mind
That my baby will be no kin to me?
I ought to rest assured

That the brightest minds have chosen the brightest source,
Screened for disease, plotted for brilliance,
Grafted for strength and grace,
Weeded till all that’s left is beauty.
It should be enough that the child is mine—
Mine to raise and love.
Mine to name.
And isn’t naming the most powerful thing there is?
They call this motherhood, after all.

With master’s degrees in English and library science, C. A. Gardner has been the editor at a private maritime museum and currently serves as cataloger at a public library. Thus far, twenty-three stories, over a hundred poems, and thirty-two drawings and photographs have been published in venues such as Best of the Rest 2, The Doom of Camelot, Gothic.net, Horror Garage, Not One of Us, Talebones, and Twisted Cat Tales. In 2004, Gardner attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop. For more information, visit here

I write fiction as well, and have planned several stories about clones. While reading up on the issues—both scientific and ethical—I couldn’t help thinking about some of my husband’s arguments against our having a child, based on our genetic inheritance. Visiting a local arboretum a few weeks later completed the connection in my mind.

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