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
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.
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
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
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.