Immersed

The light in our room is dim,
an undersea 
          soft saturation
so you might soon 
                  please sleep.

This is our new 
house, a place
         for new 
beginnings, to shed sadness
like snake's skin, 
like snow melt.

This is not 
the house
you came home to, round-eyed,
reddened baby. This is not

     the room of your first
     seizure, your first
     birthday when the weight

of your compromised life
lay heavy on my heart, 
                       heavy
on our hope. You are not

the child I imagined,
not the child I wanted, 
          and sometimes
not 
the child I want.

This new room is ours, 
broad
expanse of windows, morning light,
we two love long, lazy days
lounging 
on our shared bed.
It is our safe place.
          "Olly, olly oxen free!" 
This marriage

bed is now a place to parent
in my own soft way.
(You may disapprove.
You will disapprove.) But
I am tired. 
Ten years and I 
imagine sleeping 

and seizing
descend similarly, stifling, static.

You grab my hand now, 
                     pull it
toward your chest, as you cross
the threshold, unwilling

I am your link
to the awake world. I watch you
                                transform, 
again a baby--pink
lips and starfish hands
curl, flex.

I lay beside you,           holding
my breath, and watch
you traverse the nocturnal

waves

that carry you from awake--

          "up, up" you say
          "no tired" you learn to say

to sleep, the snags and snaps
that trip your tricky brain.

But tonight you slide smoothly
into somnolent dreamscapes.

Your long legs 
        bisect the bed,
a little boy's legs now,
thick at the thigh, 
no baby. But then you 
        draw those legs in,
a turtle hatchling, furled,
you make room
again
for me.

That years' long 
fear manifests again, 
fear like a fizz 
in my stomach,
you might never wake and I

will be left in the shallows,
                             no air
                             no air
your dolphin laugh echoing
like a lost recording, 
just so much oceanic static
no proof

     I once heard what I heard 
     and saw what I saw.

              ("You wouldn't believe!") 

I once loved a love
both rare and roaring.

Flicker

I do better with a thousand small lights, draped
tactfully over my sharp edges, like I’m a humble
Cape Cod dressed up for the holidays, haloed.

I prefer to turn my face up to a chorus of light,
a sunflower in the longest days of summer, before
its seeds grow heavy, its visage morose. For awhile

I loved the white, hot glare of your spotlight.
It warmed me instantly and too much, but I felt
the cold all the more when you turned away,
uncomfortable yourself with all that you’d seen.

In the Beginning

First, I tried ticks, their bloated bodies like blisters,
round bellies, black blood splats on the sidewalk, burst
by bicycle wheels. Then leeches, when I was ten, feet
damp in the well of the boat, water splatter as the motor
roared, slick bodies, slick, bold mouths groping, gaining
purchase. I couldn’t leave them long enough to bleed me

dry. Picking scabs only stung. Shaving legs with dull blades
run up my shin, skin shallow divots welled with wet, more
plasma than platelets, like runoff in the narrow ditches
framing the fallow fields of my father’s farm. I slid
a sharper blade along the inside of my thigh, coke-line fine,
skin paper-thin and soft like the belly of a bee. The blood

ran in rivulets, dingy windows streaked with clean. I lack
the courage to go further, palpate the pocket of my pelvis,
find the femoral vein and knife-slice it like a steak. Instead,
I write this poem, imagine I was proud, or foolish, dive deep
into this wreck, pick my bones, such meager meat. Still these
animal-lungs inflate the cage around my stupid tender heart.