Adventures in Potty Training

I’d read all the books and had tricks up my sleeve
I knew she would do it if we’d all just believe.

The neighbor boy was trained starting at 1.
His mom told me, straight-faced, “Don’t worry, it’s fun!

And you have a girl? Oh yeah, what a snap!”
But I’ll tell you one thing – She was so full of crap.

We started with “boot camp,” then stickers and charts
Bribing with candy – each one a false start.

Pull-ups, bare bottom, or fancy underwear,
She went where she wanted, she just didn’t care.

“What’s wrong with you?” I’d scream. “You’re almost 3!”
“Seriously, Mom, who cares where I pee?”

(Ok, this isn’t word for word
But basically, that’s what I heard.)

Then one day, I’m inspecting a wrinkle
When from behind me, I hear it – a tinkle!

“Baby! You did it! This is more than sublime.”
“Yeah, like I said, Mom, all in due time.”

Enough (part II)

Your bald head fit perfectly in my palm,

and the first time you opened your eyes,

you saw me.

I had just awakened from a dream

I’d been having my whole life

to find that it was true.

It was you.

My world tilted to meet

the lazy lean of your head,

and I used my wrist as your neck.

You yawned,

the jet-lagged yawn of birth,

not yet knowing what it is to be awake.

I watched in wonder as you slept,

your first real breaths

an imperfect rhythm.

Nine months of doubt

were cast away in a moment

as my knuckle brushed your velvet cheek,

and for the first time,

I trusted myself not to fail.

Enough (part I)

I hold your bald head in my hand,

your cheekbone pressed against my palm.

I wipe away the line of sweat

from where your eyebrows used to be.

A new sun begins to creep

through the blinds.

We made it through another night.

I tear yesterday from the calendar,

knowing the ripping won’t stir you

from your drug-soaked sleep.

The calendar marks the 20th day

of many yet to come

away from home, retching in your sleep,

fighting in your dreams the

relentless cells the doctors call “cancer.”

If only one word could summarize

the relief I wake to when I see

your chest rise and fall.

Your ring doesn’t fit anymore.

Your fingers swelled exponentially

as your legs began to atrophy,

so I brought a picture of us at sunset

the day we took our youngest to college.

It will never grow too big for the frame.

Your friends call, say How is she? and

When is she coming home?

My optimism chokes me, and I cry

if I can when I’m alone.

Dear Brother

The bike sale ended on your birthday,

and we both knew they coudn’t hide it from me.

Pink with sparkles, a horse’s mane of colors

streaming from the handlebars.

You taught me how to ride it that day –

took off the training wheels,

and held onto the banana boat seat

while I pedaled with twitching legs.

Running beside me, you guided my steering.

You knew every crack and bump on our block.

You loosened your grip,

and as tears rushed from my eyes,

I pled with you

not to let go.

My handlebars wobbled,

you smiled,

and through wind-flooded ears I heard you say,

Keep going. Just keep going.