She kicks while arms strike air,
Calling me to gallop, showing
She’s not had enough; and I’m
Doing everything I can to keep
Her satisfied, to keep her calm
While body marks growth with
Her pain; subsiding, my bridle
Bitten to avoid tears mixing
With the drool on our arms,
She quickens my feet, turning me
Around the couch we sit on to eat;
I twist to reverse, to give her
Something new, something to
Catch the attention fighting those
Cries; and her eyes move ahead,
Guessing our path, when I buck
And find another way to do the
Same thing, to stretch our walls
And give her want to smile, to
Free her, all while fighting those
Cries.

You saw right through me today,
And all the ways I can’t protect you,
Whether in my sight or from it.
And you stared, and I cried,
The first time I’ve done so since your birth,
And you saw me as a fraud,
As this parent by necessity,
And whose only banner is of Try,
Whose only recourse is to soothe you,
And to support you, to hold you
While you cannot hold yourself,
And to give you reassurance
When you cannot know you need it
And to let you know I’ll always be here.
Even if you see right through that lie,
Know I’ll always be here
While I’m here, and I hope to leave you
With more than enough to be who you are.

I can’t protect her everywhere she goes, and that is crippling to think about. I felt this loss, this squeezing of my soul when I looked at her this morning. I knew this wouldn’t be how it always is, with her hands resting on mine, calmed by just my presence. I knew that she would grow up and rebel, or be pressured, or love, and that her mom and I couldn’t be there if she absolutely needed us to be there. I thought about my weight, about how I need to do better and be better so that I can be her support just those few years longer. I thought of how selfish I still am, despite Candi and I being the least selfish we’ve ever been. I felt how I always want to feel: protective.

She
She screams and I hear it
Ripping away my childhood,
Giving me every reason to be
The feeder she wants, the
Protector she needs.

Your mother is beautiful,
And powerful,
And willing/wanting
To do all you need of her
So you can be.

She taps the tips of fingernails
Against your room,
Calling you to answer–
And you do, surely,
And she welcomes you
As if you chose to say hello
And acknowledge she,
Your mother,
Is.

You squirm inside
Your mother’s belly,
And she resists gravity
To carry you, foot
By swinging foot.