Fleeting

By Tamara Shoemaker

who takes care of my heart
afterward?

before, when your curls patterned the crib sheets,
and you shrieked
in the terrors of dark sleep,
i held you, a bundle in my arms,
rocking a gentle rhythm
to the sleepy sound of brahms.
before, when the sky’s gold
could not compete
with the brilliance of your smile,
your first A, the reward of your efforts.
before, when you brought him to the door,
his flowers clutched in nervous sweat.
i watched as you timidly
carved your name in his heart.

who takes care of my heart
afterward

as I stare at the empty bed,
the sheet spread in unfamiliar neatness,
a wrinkle-free reminder that you
will begin all over with someone else?

then it will be you who wrestles
with the mistress that is time,
and at last, it will be you who,
like me,
bows your head to her uncompromising pursuit.

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