This is the woman who boiled the bones
for your broth, the one who scrubbed the guts
of fish from your arms, the salt of ocean
from your hands, the woman who presses
her face into your shoulder remembering
the talcum smell of your skin and the soft,
white blond of your hair.
This is the woman who has lived in dark
showers and dark closets to evade the decaying
flesh where cancer has feasted, to avoid the look
you give now, the boy of you
pressed into her face,
her swollen arms on your back.
I have watched her hang our clothes
on the line each summer in New Jersey,
fingering each button of your shirt,
tracing the threads of my dress.
I’ve seen her fold them reverently
and place them on our beds.
A quietness between our bodies
when you rest your chin on my forehead,
I can feel the muscle of you, tense and tight.
You lean on the counter now, watching me
pulling leaves of cilantro from the stems,
their green scent rising, this new flesh
ours, swelling in me, its tiny heart a flicker,
your strong hands, tender and small again.