Monday, April 01, 2013

NaPoWriMo #1: sick kids

How ironic that as I look back to the last time I did NaPoWriMo (2011), the first poem I posted was inspired by Audrey having stomach flu. 'Tis the season, I guess: she's had a cold for most of the past week, and now Joe and I are sick, too. Sadly, Sunday didn't feel much like Easter to me, since the kids and I stayed home from church to rest and recoup.

It's always hard when babies are sick because they don't understand why they feel miserable, only that they do. I've been spending a lot of the time laying on the couch with Joe, rocking him to sleep so he can have some relief. I might enjoy getting to cuddle him more, if I didn't feel so lousy myself. The silver lining was a bit of poetic inspiration.


A golden afternoon
promises of summer in the wings
I am aware, just barely
of two older children
laughing somewhere outside
while I am stretched out on the couch
with my youngest
resting his sweaty head on my shoulder
his hair plastered to my cheek

after almost an hour
of me rocking, wiping his runny nose
of him squirming, coughing fretfully
he has finally fallen asleep
one clammy hand wrapped round
a fistful of my hair
I breathe in, but only half-way
because if I let my lungs fill
it will tickle my scratchy throat
then my coughing
will set him off coughing again, too
so I breathe shallow, shift my legs slow
so as not to wake him

my step-mother
who has no children of her own, says
I don’t know how you do it
how you care for them
when you are sick

at first I think
I don’t know how I do it
but as my mind drifts between dreams
and waking I see
the question is all wrong

and when I know
the right question

I can feel the answer
in the intricate web
of wrinkles, scars and callouses
that cover my hands

I can read the answer
in the braille of my baby’s spine
as I run my finger lightly over the vertebrae
beneath the thin knit of his shirt

I can hear the answer
as I finally float off
to the rollicking harmony of laughter
and roller skates grinding down the sidewalk:

this is what I do.

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