At Night, Asleep

She comes into our room again,
her first time in weeks.
I hear a small stir on the floor,
the rustle of crumpled paper or a bag.
Last month I would have covered my head
at this noise, groaned in irritation,
but not so today. I lie quiet in hopes
that she complete her first return.

On the phone last night, a surprise,
my mom said, Your dad
and I divorced when you were ten.
For two or three years, you didn’t have stable
parents. I was caught up in my head
and couldn’t really be there for you.
Her years-old absence, precise, pristine, still stings me,
though I feel some shame that it does —

it’s like being a child again,
though I am all grown.
An aching need for my mother
originated decades ago, landed,
dug a hole, and took root. She was gone.
Sadness grew then, sprouted up and bloomed,
blue and dark, with petals that peeled easily
from the slight stems when I touched them.

This was all I knew of growing,
so I tended it
and cultivated a garden
of these flowers, navy-dark, gray-rimmed, the kind
of night in which no stars can be seen
by the eye that searches up for them.
I mistook the sadness for beauty. It was.
I mourned each blue petal that fell.

That was a thing, my mother said.
It’s not surprising
that loving causes you worry.
Sometimes sadness seemed the heart of love. Tonight,
though, I lie in wait for her, the cat.
I’m hopeful she’ll come back. With her here,
I’ve learned some joy, how to honor another’s
right to be. So too with my Boo,

sound asleep, snoring, not worried
when, or if, she will
return. He settles in his sleep
against my body, his warm skin on my skin,
solid and soft, a quiet promise
that some loves are here to stay. They will.
A small rustle, just a thread, and she jumps
from the wooden floor to the bed.