Dearest son—fifteen years is how old I was
when my mother felt too awkward
to share with me the details of our nature.
Words like desire and sex
occupied a vocabulary incompatible
with her hopes for me.
She must have thought that speaking of love
and reputation would be enough
to exempt me from the cravings that exist
long before a marriage, or the kind of union
so holy it could deliver heaven
to the sanctuary of an ordinary bedroom.
I will not tell you to wait for your perfect one—
that she is out there waiting in your future.
I want you to refuse the lie that there is only one body
created to match the contours of yours.
Reject the myth that experience will diminish
your capacity to commit when you are ready.
Let your imagination roam unrestricted in the night.
There is no one judging your fantasies—
which are the purest way to navigate this course
that leads you toward the mysteries of women.
Remember that generosity begets generosity,
and that tenderness is a key which open doors
that have been closed by anger or confusion.
Consent is the rule above all rules,
and next is careful planning.
Babies are for adults who are ready to step away
from the center of the universe and create a new one—
you, my son, are the center of mine,
and to prepare you with these truths
is my duty and my joy.
Remember that love is a privilege never deserved.
It owes us nothing, which is what we are entitled to.
Don’t expect your first love to be your last.
Do not expect the duration of your longest love
to be uninterrupted by boredom or temptation
or the wish to taste the fruit in other orchards.
This is the terrible beauty that sustains us.
Here is the truth that I wish I’d been prepared for:
The full grown heart has many rooms—
and some will conceal passions that are equal
yet opposite to the love that sleeps beside you
in your large monogamous bed.