A child’s legs twitch, wired with the day’s last synaptic flickers.
Her body kicks and rolls into the C of sleep’s inevitable curve.
Beneath a newly named Pluto she sleeps—no longer a planet,
now simply a sphere, a smear on the galaxy’s conscience.
A mother kneels into the lamp light of the day’s last ablutions.
How will her missing hand groom the head?
She rubs her cracked heels with coarse salt and wheat chaff.
How will the linens trample themselves clean?
Daughter, your mother’s prayer teeth would sharpen
and shred your opaque sack of sleep.
She would chew you into her cow-belly vault, break you
into one of the earth’s invisible compounds with her rumen
if she could live to see what you will survive.
Mia Leonin is the author of two books of poetry, Braid and Unraveling the Bed, both published by Anhinga Press, and the memoir Havana and Other Missing Fathers (University of Arizona Press). Her poetry has been published in New Letters, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, River Styx, and others. She lives in Miami, Florida, and teaches creative writing at the University of Miami.
Feature image by Ghada Amer. Definition of The Word Love in Arabic, Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on cotton. Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York
Click on the image to enlarge.