chapter six

he has a tooth which sits a bit crooked and presses against his lip as he smiles, creating a hill of skin. I don't remember our first kiss, except it was in a hallway, tucked out of the way of wondering, wandering eyes, and I traced my tongue over that delicious imperfection with the desire and precision of any explorer. in bed now, years later, his sleeping lips are pursed a bit, and the presence of the tooth is buried beneath dreaming, below silence, obscured by his present peacefulness.

I rarely wake before you, having spent a seeming lifetime lulling you into another land, and finding myself quite alert in the midnight hours thereafter. he changed our rhythm, and now, in the raging, riotous quiet of dawn, I find us tucked and curled, protected and covered, just so. it goes you, then me & the belly, and then him. 

I can hear it in your breath - the moment between sleeping and waking - and it must be the way a priest knows a confession is complete, or how a teacher can feel whispering, or when actors senses to speak, for there is a sudden instant when the air is sucked entirely out of this space and I am acutely aware of my own mortality. that's the breath that signals you have come back to me, returned to me like a specter, or a dream, or a thought lost in the action of existing. I hold my bubbling hope in my hands for a single second, preparing for your kaleidoscope eyes to open and make me whole, bring me real quick and certain to this moment. 

'Mama,' is your cued coo, and you lift your head onto my pillow, crawling fingers across my neck and patting my breasts and coming to rest on my belly. you find a way to slip beneath the roundness in a way that never encroaches, but holds like only someday-women know how, and you talk of pancakes and whisper to 'your girl' and tell me of your dreams.

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'I saw a dragon with a purple crown. he had a hurt leg with a wrap around it and was so tired. and so we went swimming in the ocean because salt water is medicine for dragons. you called me from the beach and your belly was so, so big, mama, and the baby was knocking from space. and you had avocado, and he flew me like an airplane. and then I woke up.'

I'll probably cry. I often do, but this once the cause will be a known thing, a lingering, secret thing that mamas hold quiet: I never thought I would be loved again and filled with promise of life and seen as fully flawed and still beautiful and whispered to in cacophonous rooms and given flowers which aren't my favorite, but are the first choice of the child who came before from a love grown sour and wrinkled, and who now sees manhood in the eyes of a second, unafraid, unwavering other. and mamas will not say these things for even the biggest small girls, ones who count to 100 and know all the planets and can make banana bread and love lilacs and need only six bandaids each weekend, are quite too fresh to be reminded of otherworldly heartache. so I stay quiet about the hope which lives beyond that until I find the words. maybe when the baby comes or when you're married or when our summer seedlings sprout or the first frost or at nearby a cemetery or following the completion of your inagural chapter book. some moment will be right and clear and lacking entirely of anything else to say but the honest truth: I was content to stay us two forever, but thank you for allowing us to be more.

he always wakes to my crying, like a signal, though you've long since wiped the actual tears. we are turned into one another like a heart, or a growing bud, but he never hesitates to come up and over the width of us, effortlessly lifting you above my epic, heavy roundness, and expertly nestling you between our frames. and you curl a bit of hair behind his ear, and your grown assuredness makes him smile, and you touch that crooked tooth, and he kisses your finger, and you sit up to yell at the cat who has batted the door open. 

like that, you bolt up and bound out of the room to find the windowsill where your first bud is finding roots, and stretching into its life, and you leave us - me, and the man who resuscitated this desirous, begging soul. and now in the bright sunlight of togetherness I find I am some version of a dream you told me; about dragons and pancakes, yes, but more so about journeys and love and the kind things seeking hearts long to tell one another. and he smiles that smile and runs a finger between the folds of skin on my back where it curves just so and you are calling from the front room and there's laundry to be done and still, with the still passion of equal longing, he kisses me, pulling a plastic sword from beneath the pillows, and charging out to battle dragons.

I probably cry again here, thinking of how it might of been, and finding myself entirely, unwaveringly enamored with what is.