- From “Winter: Aphorisms”
A pirate’s sword is not a cypress, but a cutlass. Can you say cutlass?
Take out your pacifier and say cutlass. [End Page 158]
Ho-me. Ho-me. Ho-me. Ho-me. Mama, you ho-me?I can’t hold you right now, sweetheart. Mama’s writing.
I OK. OK, sweetie. I OK. OK.
Mama, kiiih? Of course I’ll kiss you, sweetheart.
Mama? Mama? Mama? I OK. OK.
Mama? Mama? Mama? Mama? Mama? [End Page 159]
The older one speaks. The youngeris in the threshold of words: ofconsequence. The slapped cheekwhen he takes his older brother’slight saber. The crash if he walksin front of the swing. [End Page 160]
There are reasons to cry. Reasons to break, to bebowled over with the loss, such as: we are living in the forest
as it dies. We watch the trucks
leave our valley each day, filled with the bodies of trees.Harrowing relentless across earth.
And other bodies around us.Touching one another
increasingly. Steadily to know—bodiesof all our knowing
and then of our forgetting. Our sons. Each other.
Have we loved across the inconceivabletime and distance, across bodies we are told
we cannot know. [End Page 161]
Mama, Mateo has one of your special medicines.
Looking out of the shower: Mateo, will you put that tampon back, sweetie?
It doesn’t taste yummy.
Oh! Not yummy! He puts it back on the counter.
No, Mateo, it’s not yummy—it’s Mama’s, and it doesn’t taste yummy.
Pulls the shower curtain back: Mama it’s not yummy! [End Page 162]
Memory drilledinto the sternum: my baby taps me there, says: Mama.Says: nuh, nuh. He means:nurse. He means: nurse the demandingmemory outside of oneself. He means: get
outside the house. Outside in the raindrive yourself, Mama, in or out, Mama,
of the drive of the rain. He means: give.He means: get. He means: unstopping. [End Page 163]
In the middle of the night the baby smack-smacks my breast, yells NUH.I ignore him. I roll away. He crawls over me to get again
to the breast-side, still mostly asleep, himself.
Smack-smack-NUH. Smack-smack-NUH. We are both almost asleep againwithout nursing. When from the silence he yells, mostly asleep,
NOW!! Slaps me across the face. And then we do sleep. [End Page 164]
Holding oneself in right relationto the gallery of living and breathing commotion: there is, perhaps, nothing
more holy to me than this snow falling at night.
Snow and my children. Or, shamelessly, the trees holding themselvesaloof from the snow-covered ground until bending, bending,
broken at it. [End Page 165]
Sarah Vap is the author of five collections of poetry—most recently Arco Iris (Saturnalia Books), which was named a Library Journal Book Best Book of 2012, and End of the Sentimental Journey (Noemi, 2013). She is a recipient of a 2013 National Endowment of the Arts Grant for Literature.