The night the mother forgets to call and the father thinks
I guess she’s dead, and I’m stuck raising our son alone.
The night the son says he can't sleep because moonlight
rashes the curtains, and the mother thinks, dear God,
don't let him be like me, always awed by the suffering of others
in a way that is half empathy, half desire, the way she dreams
of catching white rabbits by their ears and touching the pink
jelly of their eyes with more curiosity than tenderness.
The morning the father says, I understand now why people stay
together for their kids, and the mother thinks this must be how
much he loves their son, not his waning adoration of her.
The father thinks he lost something, but he has his keys,
his glasses, all socks and their pairs tucked neatly together.
And the mother thinks of how much gas is in the car,
how far away she could get before stopping. And the son
wants to know if the coldness circumnavigating his heart
is called God, but before his parents can enter the room,
white petals disappear into his shadow like a conclusion.
Traci Brimhall is the author of three books of poetry: Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton), Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), and Saudade(Copper Canyon Press, forthcoming). Her poems have also appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New Republic, and Best American Poetry 2013 &2014. She lives in Manhattan, Kansas.