Crushed by your mother’s young death,
I lived beneath grief, paralyzed for months.
My eyes were bloodshot from reading
manuscripts and sobbing in business
meetings. At night, alone in bed, I cried again.
Friends came over, and neighbors. Cousins,
aunts, uncles, grandparents cared for you. Seeping
through the edges of my closed door, I heard laughter
over Monopoly, Chutes & Ladders, Go Fish.
I listened. Then watched. You played flashlight tag,
created human pyramids that tumbled into piles
of squirming bodies, all ages, wild laughter. Gradually,
something shifted, softened.
It’s my turn, I thought.
We started on the driveway, shooting hoops into
a free-standing basket, shortened for you. Then camping
trips, watching basketball games at the local college.
When you began high school, we grew strong
from long cross-country runs through Loblolly pines
and Maidenhair ferns in nearby woods, talking now, talking
and listening, words volleyed between athletic breaths.
Rory, I came back to life for you.
Christy Wise is a poet, essayist, and author. Her poems have appeared in Evening Street Press, Anthem, The Raven’s Perch and NEBO Literary Journal. She is co-author of “A Mouthful of Rivets: Women at Work in World War II” and author of “Banished to the Black Sea: Ovid’s Poetic Transformations in Tristia 1.1.” Wise lives in San Francisco and Washington DC.