I’ve gone belly-up for my prodigal
and his knock-kneed swagger of hit-or-miss.
It suits him, the fall from grace.
Wafer-thin, minty-fresh, proto-punk.
Everything wasted becomes the boy,
crowd-sourced collar of hickeys blooming,
the headless glamour of youth,
all that I’d given up for lost.
My prodigal returns to me
without his keys, his coat, his shoes,
tapping his familiar tattoo at my door
as if I still had everything to give—
a kingdom, a cigarette, a fatted calf—
and all he had to do was ask.
Some mothers fear the worst. They still believe
in the fiction of control. Poor kittens.
Poor mittens. Poor sacrificial cotton socks.
I seem to be the bearer of bad news;
blue-eyed princeling, anime-bright,
articulated idol, towhead intactus.
A smile so sly you’ll forget your lunch.
That smug reflex of maternal pride.
Been there, done that. Took the fall
from the broken bough, cradle and all.
Almost a year since I almost lost him.
Lost the plot. Lost my head. Lost the habit
of believing in a time when “the worst”
was still good enough….”
“but I opened my coat to prove a point
and kept coming home with colds.
I thought I was done stuffing fists
in my mouth to mute the sound.
Done lying about what trails my throat
had charted. I practiced looking tall
men in the eye, spoke loudly,
pronounced every ‘R.’
I chopped wood at midnight.
I left the shower and kept
singing. I sang about my body
like I was proud. I was proud.