At your bed I’m learning Spanish verbs. Comer. Beber. Nadar.
Then sleep forgets you,
drops its hands, tips you upside
from its ocean shoulders into the bleached sheets’ grit.
Mother, you cut through estar, reach the rail to ask
for the wrong President, your verbs
folding him from cotton,
making him swan, bow-tie, line of ducks that wind
through a child’s creamy page
up Beacon Hill. Proclamations stiffen:
his mouth, your mouth’s a path of crooked pins. Ser.
Nacer. I made your last stay in rooms like these by falling
from your body. It was Nixon then,
a Wednesday. I am sorry:
though they said delirium would only last the night,
it’s Wednesday now. Again, and full of woe.
I need emergency Power of Attorney
and the social worker says not to be so angry.
You turn the page to Sports which you
forget you hate.
You once lived in Mexico City. I wonder
if you remember. You did last week, before
this bed white
as a bone, a cracked winter lake.
In three weeks, my son comes home, becomes
if the adoption courts shut down again.
In my lap I crease the book,
set it flat, my shoulder to wet glass. Turn the page
to help lips part.
In three weeks, my son.
He may know how to sit up now.
He may be wading through morning’s blue cloak.
He’ll say que-que-que before he says CAT.
While you sleep I practice passive
voice. I learn first person. My own
first word was whistle,
my first gift to you a pin of sound.
At your bed I whisper drills. Roof drips.
Machines purse their tin lips and tweet for your heart.
At your bed I say Quiero, quiero.
Desire wings from a red branch at the glass—
Brillar. You forget to wave it off,
but it leaves you anyway. Volar.
Abandon. To Shine. You once lived in Mexico.
Your hair was full of gulls and stars.
In this rainroom all the nests are cracking.
Your words are a cradle of light.
You have forgotten you’re sorry
you had me.
You forget you didn’t want your body. Night, a silver cart—
they’re wheeling in a cake.
You whistle, thrill. You do not want me
to die now. You want me
to try it, try it honey,
dulce, it’s so sweet.
Sally Rosen Kindred is the author of two poetry collections from Mayapple Press, No Eden (2011) and Book of Asters (2014), and her most recent chapbook is Darling Hands, Darling Tongue (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). She has received poetry fellowships from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her poems have appeared in Quarterly West, Linebreak, The Journal, and on Verse Daily.