Last year, when I was visiting a public school in Sunset Park in Brooklyn for teenagers with boundless difficulties, my host, a poet who teaches at various city schools, mentioned a student who had become pregnant. Hoping to start a library for the child soon to arrive, the poet told the young woman embarking on motherhood that she would like to give her some books — books of the kind her own grandchildren growing up in a very different Brooklyn had by the dozens. The offer was met skeptically. “I already have one,” the girl said.
“We should concentrate our energies on helping the most vulnerable parents and children beginning at, or before, birth,” she argues. Sailer quips, “How about 9 months and 1 day before birth?”