Back to me…away again

I can’t stop from thinking I need to drink her in.

The curve of her chin, the skin that ripples

in the crook of a bent arm, the rise and fall of her belly

during sleep, the flyaway curls

that catch the sun.

“Give me a push,”

she says, and I oblige,

watch her silhouette sail

toward the sun,

come back to me

…and away again.

A chemist once said matter

is neither created nor destroyed.

But what was there

before her?

What could there possibly be

after?

Back to me

    …away again.

Her absence will be gradual

if I am blessed. Her voice cutting through

the phone line from another house,

another state,

another country.

She will be rushed. I’ll scramble

for anything just to keep her

on the line, her breath in my ear,

nothing between us

but an ocean.

“Come home,” I’ll want to tell her.

“I love you,” I will say instead, if I am true

to my intentions.

She will hang up, step lightly

into background noise. I will not

hang up, cradle phone to cheek, listening

for remnants of her voice to travel

back to me.

Now she needs me.

Then, she will not.

Even as I try to memorize her,

legs kicked out, face pressed

to the sky, as the swing carries her up —

“Look at me, Mommy!”

it is the remembering

I will remember most.

Drink her in.

“Push me,” she says again. This time,

I send her flying, honey-brown hair glinting gold

against autumn sunlight. I can’t see

her eyes, but I know they are closed

and she is smiling.

Come back to me

…away again.

 

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