Friday, August 31, 2012

the way we say i love you

i am hovering over the baby, her cries
dry wells - she is sobbing from her deepest
chest and nothing rises in the bucket,
not one drop of water leaves her eye.

honey, i cry out to him over the television,
honey i don't know what is wrong with her.
he is watching his favorite show, and the last
ten nights he has not sat longer than ten minutes

or eaten dinner at the table or eaten dinner.
i see the rough of his beard move incrimently
and i know he is thinking about answering me,
or not. the beer is unopened and sits on top

his Robert Parker, also unopened. the baby
stuffs a bulb fist into her mouth, and mouths
the thing wet. the high whine of misery leaks
around her fingers, in the place of those absent tears.

honey? i see the bristles move outward with his jaw,
the fatigue of being absolutely necessary
one hundred percent of the time. although i understand,
i feel a scream building, cheeks jerking,

and i think i might cry out like the baby
but i might say 'goddammit!' or 'what the hell!'
because i have not slept more than three hours at a time
for more than three months, and because i cannot

make her happy, or stop her crying, and because i am
her mother and i do not know what to do. that alone
is enough. i look down at her. baby
looks at me, sucking her fist, and as my tears

fall onto her eyelids, i feel his hand on my shoulder,
his exhausted voice slightly edgy, rancid breath
on my face as he asks, ' what is it.. sweetheart? '

this is how i know that i am loved.

maggie may ethridge, 2009
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