five.

love is fucking scary

by FLB

last night sam was eating carrots
and he got a piece stuck in his chest
he didn’t choke but the doctor said he could have
and to watch him all night
i kept checking his breathing
like when he was a newborn
he’s tall and long legged now
but still smells like a baby
although sometimes after the park
he smells a little like dirt
and there is ground-in grime on his kneecaps
he has these thick eyebrows with all these beautiful feathery hairs
his lips are full and often chapped
they hurt him
he has this tiny bump on his tiny nose
maybe it’s genetic
or maybe it’s from getting hit with footballs at the park
it makes him look like a model
his skin is tan
i worry about the mole on his cheek
we’ll have to get that checked at his next appointment
when we are sad we watch movies together
the not-sad one of us always suggests it
to the sad one
if the movie is scary he grabs my arm
and throws it over his shoulders
like a blanket
i love him so much
sometimes it makes me want to die.

***

How to Feel Like a Victim on Your Birthday

by LB

Preface with your son’s severe raspy cough
that has lasted 5 days
how he threw up
from coughing so hard
white mucous all over your shoulder
chest your hands and cheek
how you didn’t have the patience
to tell him you loved him and he was safe
and going to be okay
because he woke up his sister
and you ran to her
without washing your hands
and held her to you
asked her to heal you, her brother
but all she did was cry,
sucking on your shoulder with
the leftover trail of slime

Fast forward to your husband telling you
he got you something practical for a gift
over your reheated dinner leftovers
with the baby monitor static
making you jump with every buzz

Then get in bed beside the warm body
of your son
the sleeping sounds of your daughter
while your husband works in the living room
the white glow of his computer screen
too bright coming through the pane of glass
of your bedroom door

As soon as your eyes close
startle as your son’s coughing
resumes
another fit
try to smother his face in the pillow
so he spares his sister’s sleep
worried you might suffocate him
mad at yourself for not loving him more
in the moment
mad at yourself for punishing him for being sick
grab him and pull him out of bed
take him into the living room
give him thick, black raw honey for his cough
hug him and say you’re sorry
go back into the bedroom,
get snuggled under the down comforter
forgive him and yourself
forgive your practical husband

Close your eyes
and listen to your son’s wet breathing
touch his caving chest
take a long inhale and then freeze
inflated
when you feel your daughter begin to toss and turn
she sucks on her bottom lip
makes a small nursing cry
so you sit up fast
get her to the breast
before she wakes up your son

Do this dance
stumble through it
from eleven thirty until five this morning
on your birthday
do this dance without grace
and get mad at everyone
even your dog who you forgot to feed
because it is supposed to be the one
day out of the year that you can smile
and celebrate you
Do this dance and cry yourself to sleep
in between the wake-ups
in between the pulling apart of your body
and finally rest as the sun peeks
through the trees
as the birds serenade
fall asleep for twenty minutes
and wake to your son slapping you
as hard as he can in the face
because he wants you to wake up
you scream
wake up your daughter
find your husband is sleeping in a dark, dark cave
downstairs
away from all of the noise
away from all of the chaos
he slept through the night without stumbling
throw your coughing son on your husband’s bed
storm back upstairs
to your daughter who is very upset
get in bed
try to nurse her
have her push you away
and start crying again

Finally, emerge from the room
to your son apologizing
hugging your legs
and your husband handing you a large box
unwrapped
you don’t have your glasses on so you get close
very close to the large box
and find
he bought you a vacuum

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2 thoughts on “five.

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