Oath For My Son Made Upon A Full Bed
Crawling under the covers, parting their spooned figures, I am
oblivious to what may have been interrupted, my parents’ rough sheets
an ocean rumpled into crests and troughs in early morning light.
Once I hear of life’s whispered facts, a truth I desperately want
to reject, the scene of that snuggling is drowned until my son’s own
attraction to the heat of parental bodies.
The rescued memory of my parents’ double bed swims back to me.
No longer boundless but a narrow raft framed in mahogany and
barely wider than the length of a body – a careless stroke could knock
one overboard. How could my parents have slept soundly for a half century
on that mattress full with the weight of shed skin, unseen parasites, quiet
tears, above squalling springs while the house falls to pieces around them?
And what of the practice of the family bed, children never sleeping apart
from parents. Should I have permitted my son to share our queen bed?
Do children learn better or just sooner? What lesson is left to teach my son?
Let me be the mattress, home stead to absorb his injuries. Let him
pillow heavy into me and contour a canal to slide through a second time,
emerging unscathed, as when I first held him, held you, held
Ellen Sazzman is a Pushcart-nominated poet whose work has been recently published in Peregrine, Delmarva Review, Another Chicago Magazine, PANK, Connecticut River Review, Ekphrastic Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Sow’s Ear, Lilith, Common Ground, and CALYX, among others. She was awarded first place in the 2022 Dancing Poetry Festival, received an honorable mention in the 2019 Ginsberg poetry contest, was shortlisted for the 2018 O’Donoghue Prize, and was awarded first place in Poetica’s 2016 Rosenberg competition. Her poetry collection The Shomer (2021) was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Blue Lynx Prize and a semifinalist for the 2020 Elixir Antivenom Award and the 2019 Codhill Press Poetry Award.
Image: Uncredited, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons