for my mother

Not flesh but string, the line which bound your foot
To mine, hobbling me so you could nap
And not worry I would wander loose
Those summer afternoons. But who could sleep
In such light? No boy of eight. I’d wait
Until your breath grew even. Holding mine,
I’d sit up slowly, carefully work the knot—
A ball of snake coils small but intricate
As trip-wires. One day I slipped the noose,
Eased off the creaking bed. I felt my face
Tighten around the eyes. Afraid you’d call
Me back, I tiptoed toward the doorway: no sign
I’d wakened you. I listened, then took a step
Through—and saw the darkness of the long hall.



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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 10, on page 27
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