When her only boy first felt his throat crowd,
she thought of her father’s boyhood fever
which washed over his heart
like an ocean over sand. Sand: maybe a window
once, in a house the ocean also
claimed. Which is to say the body is for some
a kind of furniture: in hard times
hauled out to the yard
and split for kindling.
The color of her son’s hair: red, her father’s offering
at the pool of cells
once huddled in her abdomen.
And their skin: pale, pink at cheeks and temples,
a flush suggesting blood
was only visiting the body.
When the fever spread from throat to chest
to joints, crumpling
her child like rotted wood,
she saw again her father close the bathroom door,
heard the water
soften what had gripped his heart.
How else explain the rhythm
of their home: irregular
and buzzing, like a strummed guitar,
the strings held down
with insufficient pressure.
Little clot of air
between rosewood and steel.
And here he was visiting
again just like she’d always wished,
sitting upright in her grown boy’s only body.
As if it were a chair. His chair—the one
he’d waited patiently for her to offer.