"The Tidy Maker"
Sitting among little boy clothes handed down twice,
I pretend it's a party.
Hello! My name is: 2T. We met last year.
Hello! My name is: 3T. I'm your kind of pal.
Hello! My name is: 5T. We are mammoth.
Three random size sevens sit like wallflowers near the door,
their turn to dance will come.
If I hadn’t been through this twice before,
I would think it impossible that he would grow so large.
And in a way, I still think it's impossible,
because a size seven held by the waist looks like a little man.
But then I unpack the bulldog pajama bottoms that were impossible last winter.
Today I fold them and put them in his drawer.
Some of the knees on the pants he has outgrown aren’t worn enough to suit me.
Little boys should have worn out knees.
I know this, and I take it as a correction.
Tomorrow we will go to the park.
I'll tell you a secret about motherhood,
I want my children to grow up with ironed sheets.
I can't do that, of course. I have a job.
But those moms from the 1950's who had time, and time, and time
gave kisses on the foreheads and sweet dreams.
They made hot breakfasts.
I don't do that all right.
I fight to be the tidy maker.
The one who smells sour hair and says it needs washing.
But it's hard, like trying to swim.
I'm always pulling ends together and praying
for God to make up the difference.
Teenage clothes are thrown on the bed next over,
soccer jerseys and t-shirts with quirky pictures.
Private jokes scrawled on notebook paper are thumbtacked to the wall.
Lately this room takes on the shape
of someone beginning to live elsewhere.
His clothes are bigger than I am.
Sitting among the piles,
I push down a great grief.
This is love that compresses all the breath in my chest.
Defenseless, I hold a soft, yellow, sweatshirt to my face
(size 2T), and inhale.