With Child
Marni Asplund-Campbell, editor

Mary and Martha
Marni Asplund-Campbell

[p.106]I watch her face in the fading room,
how her eyes flick to the window,
aware of strangers, and comprehend
the dishes on the table, with crusts of cereal
along their rims, sticky cups, the butter
melting between us. We can smell
the bathwater growing cold, the dull edge
of tub soap quickly hardening.
Crumbs stick to our elbows,
and a thin line of ants streams across the floor,
past rubber bands and legos, and our bare feet.
We sit for hours, just like this, talking
and waiting for some answers,
abandoned as we are by daylight.

And you, my Lord, are the child
sleeping in my bed,
your breath sweet
with the day’s milk,
your eyes dusted
with salt from the tears
I let you cry
all alone in the dark room.
You upbraid me
with your sorrow,
and I can only offer
a warm embrace
as penitence,
holding you closely
to my tired, tired heart.