“Genetic Predisposition”

Our lovely daughter
is reading a book on magical jellyfish
& one on the history of the human world.
She is even more kind than her brother
though she’s a sore loser.
Her brain’s like a falcon,
the way it flashes & swoops, how fast
she does long division.

Our lovely daughter
might inherit the disease,
be anointed in her late teens.

She is already better
than her father at chess,
a master at 13. She plays soccer,
runs quick, interrupts people &
loves her birthday
the way you love yours.

In the future, she might fashion
herself a prophet
a real one,
shun sleep
on her way to a hospital
bed & antipsychotics
because What if I never wake up?
I hear her say.

& what a laugh she has,
how it is a home for our hearts
with its fig-like sweetness,
its sound like a wind chime.
Remember how she would give you & me
kisses without asking, the unparalleled gifts?
Or how her tiny hand
would move her hair
out of her face as a little girl,
like drawing the curtain open
on this city’s finest stage.

It would be pain
to see our daughter
lose grip of her irrepressible mind,
watch her thoughts jump around
like a battalion of bullfrogs,
see her confused at what day it is,
her eyes redden from exhaustion,
the circular flares
propelling her higher to a different world,
away from here & us.


Nicholas Reiner is a Latino poet, sports writer, and chess expert from Southern California. He holds degrees from Stanford University and University of California, Irvine, where he completed an MFA in poetry. His work appears or is forthcoming at Spillway, B O D Y, and Connotation Press. He lives in Santa Monica, CA with his wife.

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