by Sandy Croomer
A child really can cry all night, her breath
wheezing and wrapped in wails, her face
the red newborn face I remember gasping
for its first brittle air. No one mentions how it hurts
to slice the lungs with oxygen, how cold and white
the light really is. I remember how I held her
and cried too, and for the first time said
everything will be all-right, determined to make it so.
But now I want to say I’m not sure if anything
can be made right, if I have the power
to do anything for the now twenty-three year old face
pressed into my chest, this no-longer-a-child,
always-a-child face wounded with a serious wrong.
This is the night I stand on the porch
while the humid blackness swells
like some dead thing in water, and the film
in my throat is hot and curdled like milk.
This must be what drowning feels like,
lungs heavy as wooden oars.
Let me start again. A child really can cry
all night and I must let her, and let the words
I want to say crystallize on my tongue and dissolve.
Because the next breath will come hard
and I have to let it. Because the next moment
will settle like a leaden weight and I have to let it.
Because my words won’t be peonies blooming,
or bluebirds slipping nimbly into flight,
and I have to let them be the hollow echo
of hawk’s hoarse cry and hope that morning
will come fast and brilliant and brave, and that love
will make some kind of difference in the end,
even though it doesn’t, right now, it doesn’t.