The Sick Child

You didn’t see her – behind the door,
but your mother bowed her head
and wept when you left, or

Her white knuckles,
slim clasped when fever took you
down in cold rattled sweats,

as she tamped your forehead
with the one soft rag left in the cupboard –
brought water to your lips.

You didn’t see her –
but she held you, new and wet,
back, before your eyes.

And you never saw late,
when your first love died,
and she held you brief,
she slipped into her room
and cried.

And when you walked away,
on that first day yours,
when the door soft shut,
you mother bowed her head and wept,
for the sick child she once knew when,
is still fevered, still shaking, still blind.

Image: “The Sick Child” by Edvard Munch

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