If I could step back into the ghost flicker
of a house lit by candles,
I might ask you, “Mama, how long has it been
since we had power? Since I could see
your face at night?” In that much dark,
we could only move by sound. Echolocating
down a hallway where I could detect your voice,
thin warbler, crooning a lullaby.
How did I know you loved me? Because your eyes
contained the same gray ash as mine.
Because I am of you, same bones,
same knuckles rapping on the bedroom door,
same breath held on the other side
as I shrunk smaller and smaller into corners.
Because I feared you as I feared the scars
on your abdomen that carried the profane history
of where I emerged from your vermillion dampness.
Born of blade, I came to know
there cannot be love without agony
as there cannot be my cheek without your hand.
And even today when clouds pass overhead,
there is still that frightened boy in me
slipping past your grasp
as an evening storm began to drizzle
when I was still the child
and you were still the mother
calling in that wet blooming night:
Jordan Escobar is a writer, teacher, and zookeeper in Boston, MA. His work can be found in Water-Stone Review, Blue Earth Review, Terrain.org and elsewhere. He currently divides his time teaching at Emerson College and working at the Franklin Park Zoo.