queen anne at grandpa’s farm, some time last summer
the baby waits on the bed, seeming top heavy like she’ll fall off if she even moves at all. but she doesn’t. she is waiting for me to hold her to sleep while the fan blows white noise and cold in the corner, the glow of my phone in the dark as i thumb a ride on the highway of instagram, pinterest. she is waiting to be held close while she drifts away drunk on milk and dreams.
and when she drops off at last and i bring myself to fold back the wool blanket and pull myself from the bed and tuck her in to go and do the dishes, after this, when i slip on another sweater and sneak down the hall, i decide to make a coffee for tonight. just a small one, hot and steaming in a white cup with a golden ring around the top. one for me and one for aaron. and sometimes we sit together to drink it and talk late in the night.
and other times, i take a small sip, and instantly feel like i am the one who stared into the stars for a long time, gave a shout, and took a pen and charted the constellations. or like i am the first woman who wore a red dress and threw her head back and, held by the small of her back, danced the first tango. and just after that first long drag of coffee, that electric, star-gazing, accordion accompanied second of sipping, sure enough, that baby will wake up and cry and won’t settle back into sleep. she might even get out of the bed and scurry rosy cheeked down the hall to find me. of course i will sigh, i will sigh the deepest canyon of a sigh. and i will take her back and climb into the bed with a small feeling of dread, as if the bed is the mount of olives and i am a dusty disciple of Jesus squinting skyward as he ascends into the heavens to stay for all the earthly suppers and walks and miracles in my future. but i do it anyway. and i give her myself and she holds onto me with perfect little hands and feels the love of a hundred weary mothers before me. sometimes, oftentimes, i fall asleep myself, my teeth unbrushed, the lamps still lit, the tv murmering on, or one side of the sink full of hot, soapy water. i slip into sleep, my phone lost in the covers, forgetting the shape of orion, the slow promenade, the coffee going cold on the counter.