But still I love you, as how a mother
worn by a child’s complaints
admires the back of his small head
of curls. Or the way a woman
leaves her fireplace into winter’s bitter
ice with her dog leashed and tensed to walk.
It’s a duty to love you, to keep you in my thoughts.
But when they sing your song, I remember
how we used to be, when you were a parade
of fire trucks, a rusted Ferris wheel and pink
explosions in the night sky. When you were a camp
fire, a hot night, and I was your girl,
a tufted nestling awaiting your wide warm wings.
I’ll still swallow the fat wet worms you feed me,
but some days they coil in my stomach,
a slick thick knot I can’t digest. Some days
you are a lump in my throat, a scream.
But still I hum your anthems, still want to be
in your circle of stars. Every morning when I wake
in your bed, I pray this is the day you’ll remember
yourself, and from your dry tree will come
amber syrup, golden and sweet on our tongues.
Jeanine DeRusha teaches English at Manchester Community College in Connecticut. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington and has been published in several literary journals, including Puerto del Sol, American Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Prairie Schooner (forthcoming).