I tucked an umbrella in her backpack,
new, pink, unbroken.
Days later, I see it peeking out.
And startled, I know.
She will see the sky, uncertain,
and she will decide to cover–or not–
Not so long ago, she waited–
sometimes quietly–sometimes not.
For the cover, the milk (warm), the song.
There was a time I could not fathom
her being able, allowed, to wander the house alone.
When does she cover, without her mother to fret?
Is her sky only pink on rainy walks home?
Does she know that sometimes I taste rain, and it’s good?
There is mud to worry about,
But then, I am a mother.
When forgotten, my angry butter knife pushes it out, again and again,
through the soles’ creases and crevices and down the drain
while I speak the words I’ve already spoken so many times before.
What I don’t tell her:
Sometimes it’s impossible to know
when to cover
and when to not.
Dismiss practicality and two outcomes exist.
You sit in your wet clothes, the choice you made rubbing your skin raw.
Or, alive with cold, you simply slip out of them; the moment, golden, embeds, emboldens.
Startled, she’ll know.
These things I place are tokens,
their weight heavy with hope and contradiction.
Covers, but only if wanted.
And promises that more exist, if needed, at home.