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Finger wet with the blood of a childhood scrape

All a flurry of wispy hair and hearty cries,

She throws her arms tight

Around my neck

Face, wet with tears, fitting perfectly

Into the curve of my shoulder.

Everything around us recedes – swirling conversation,

Impressing mummy friends, and pressing to-do list –

She sobs, I soothe. No one else will do.

She breathes me in and draws comfort from my very skin

And I squeeze my eyes shut tight at the thought

That ever I might be

Not there

When she cries

Growing, she still fits

Into the curve of my body.

Drowsy from sleep, or

Hot with a fever, or

Filled with strange, overwhelming fears

She presses against my neck


And is still

I remember her, new in my house

Silent child with wide eyes and

A sullen kind of anger

Squeezing under the bed, and pressing into the floor

At every loud noise.

Eyes squeezed shut, ragged teddy pulled close

Refusing to be held.

Distant past now, for this holy child

Every smile a miracle, a sacrament.

And here is the splinter, stuck in my heart:

Her fate is in the hands

Of case worker, department, magistrate

I am helpless, hands tied.

Heart afraid.

I lie awake and rage at the ceiling

At the iron sky that gives no clue

Of our shared future.

No clue of any hope.

My friend pours out tea

And comfort

As I unbutton tight lips and tell all

My anger at the silent skies

The wordless fear that swallows me whole

How can I ever, ever let her go?

And nothing changes, nothing changes.

But here in this moment –

Do you want to hear my joke?

It is made up and garbled, but she laughs

Oh, she laughs, grin wide, head thrown back

And I catch her in my arms as she jumps, fearless

And we twirl around

Here in this moment

Skies no longer iron but

Open and radiant and pouring down light

Flooding grace

With that laugh that breaks me open –

She is full of love and hope, everything that she will ever be

Here we are together, in this moment.

She is my solace, and I am hers

I pull her closer

And just for this moment

Just for now

I never, never let her go.

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