Be quiet, Mama says, before she turns the key.
musn’t let him think your mama has a child.
In the morning we’ll do something special.
He fears what comes in at night. Imagines
the stranger’s body wrapped around his mama.
Hears the groaning and thinks the man must be
hurting her. He whimpers but there’s nothing
he can do locked in Mama’s closet.
From his dark outpost, he tries to peek
through the strip of light beneath the door,
but can’t see anything. Like an odd shoe
among tossed pairs, he rubs his hand along
the edges, feels tiny stones, straps, laces.
Hopes he won’t have to pee.
He listens, but can’t hear any sound now
except a wailing siren from the street.
Is Mama dead? He wants to pound the door
and scream but knows the stinging buckle.
He nuzzles Mama’s dresses, smells her smell,
then twists a piece of hem until he falls asleep.
Waking stiff and cold, he’s bewildered
for a moment, then grabs the knob
and bursts into the morning light.
Mama’s snoring in their bed.
He dares not wake her. Sour milk
for cereal, no one to tie his sneakers.
He’ll watch cartoons on the snowflake TV.
Mama will sleep til noon.