the effects of external conditions
you rest not in darkness.
there will always be a flame
to light the way.
he was your sweetest downfall.
when i was weary from his complaints
and confusion it were your arms
he reached for.
when he whimpered like a small dog
you pushed your breast at him
said to me, remember: you named him.
and i reminded you: it was my only
offering besides the fistful of seed.
he was the sweetest downpour
of your availability.
i loved you always.
your shyness like a pleasant breeze
corralling small children like a spasm
i loved you most when you sat huddled
motionless as a puddle in mother’s lap
knotting your fingers into a tsunami.
i loved you when you whistled yourself
beneath the veil of mother’s breath as she
inhaled the last of your scent from the hollow
of your head chewing on your offering.
i loved you when i hustled you off to bed
for the umpteenth time; your lips and throat
dry, red raw as a summer’s dawn; your eyes
darting back and forth in your head startled
as fish; the coral of your eyes awash with light
and i held you close to still the thrashing of your
arms and legs and in the darkness you reached
most often for mother.
her name on your lips that you knew only how
to spell with love.
and i remembered the only time you cried;
one single tear shed after you watched a little
boy light an offering candle for his parents;
your hand trembling, like the flame’s flickering;
you rubbed my hand like a wish.
i thought we would both burst into flames.
you looked up, lipped the words, told me:
remember to light one for me, just let mother
do it first.