I wept into the cat bowl crusted & spent, its dried meat folded with dander & dust I hadn’t gotten to sweeping,
groceries bought & bagged, stacked three deep on the floor, a ticket for an expired inspection
from a stark-bald cop, my daughter hungry for play when my joy felt tapped, my face haggard in the moments I took
to brush my teeth, which in our house we call ‘self-care’. Up the night before, I watched a bruiser of a sky
play tricks with the streetlights, purple halos like black eyes, branch-tips laden with seedpods cast against the screen of the ceiling
& thought about my father until daylight, my daughter’s breathing soft as a bird’s breast while the room bloomed into a morning that spun
too fast, my little daughter suddenly saying that’s just awesome with her hands on her hips like she gets it all, everything, our cars
driving farther and faster while the cops shine their blue lights into our tired eyes, my father’s decline accelerated into a kind of tenderness,
his body fragmenting into tufts of fraying milkweed we try to catch in our teeth between fevered breaths.
Meghan Sterling lives and teaches workshops in Portland, Maine with her family. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, Cider Press Review, Inflectionist Review, Glass: Poet’s Resist, Sky Island Journal, Westchester Review, Pine Hills Review, Mom Egg Review, Enough: Poems of Resistance and Protest, and many others. She is Associate Poetry Editor of the Maine Review, a Dibner Fellow at the 2020 Black Fly Writer’s Retreat, and a Hewnoaks Artist Colony Resident in 2019 and 2021. Her collection These Few Seeds is out in April 2021 from Terrapin Books. Read her work at meghansterling.com.