MAGGIE BLAKE BAILEY
Tonight is the red of my young son’s cheeks:
visible proof of a body on fire.
Let me barter for another red:
inside edge of a lip,
Even a fire truck, helpful on the pages
of a children’s book, or wailing
against traffic to someone else’s
misery. Keep moving, keep moving.
My daughter says oceans.
Not a mispronunciation,
but an entire replacement.
What color is her shirt? Ocean.
And on the table, just out of her reach?
She wants them, the oceans.
When her words are close,
I gently nudge them into shape.
But who am I to fix this larger translation?
She knows the water, will tell you waves
and sand the same way she will tell you
backhoes and horses and ice cream.
All loved is loved the same.
Last night, we should have said oceans.
I can’t remember when I didn’t need to change.
Much to the Wisemen’s dismay,
Mary continues to bleed for weeks.
Mary struggles with low supply,
buys teas and vitamins on the internet.
Mary considers co-sleeping in hay,
decides to sleep train
but no one lets him cry.
The Mary I knelt to
dressed in white and robin’s egg blue.
But I am a mother now.
My son sleeps in my arms.
His rest feels hard won
This Mary asks to have her tubes tied.
Fool me once.
Maggie Blake Bailey has poems published or forthcoming in Tar River, Ruminate, San Pedro River Review and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Bury the Lede, is available from Finishing Line Press and her full-length debut, Visitation, will be available from Tinderbox Editions in spring 2019. For more work, please visit www.maggieblakebailey.comand follow @maggiebbpoet on Twitter.