A poem shimmering forward
like the mirage of human form
awakens me from tattered sleep.
Before I’ve reached my pen,
she’s awake again and wailing.
The shard of bone gnawing
through her gum claws
closer to the surface, aching
to erupt. We rise, unrested.
When I lift her, she tries
to scale me like a mountain.
I make coffee while she
worries her toothlessness
like a splinter or a pebble in a shoe.
We maroon ourselves
on the living-room floor,
on an island of brief sunlight.
We won’t leave the house today.
Through steam-stained windows,
the naked trees are vague.
The sidewalks are phlegmy with ice.
Winter grinds its fist into the city.
Naptime – she refuses to sleep unheld.
My shoulders ache from stillness.
I search for the image that woke me.
I struggle to dredge the seed from memory,
urge it to burst its smooth skin,
to declare itself.
Her cheek against my breast is
firm and cool like rising bread.
She wakes again,
and wails her yearning for teeth.
I ease her down so I can
stretch the knots from my shoulders.
Light gathers in the tears on her lashes.
With a orphaned look,
she reaches for me, both arms up.
Her hands panic
like dizzy, breathless butterflies.
This is new, this reaching.
*Originally published in MotherVerse Magazine