when finally  
the last light has fallen off the trees
leaves dry with dark
you mark your place
in the book
with a lightly pressed corner  

you pace barefoot along the porch
back and forth
even as small splinters
prick your toes  

even as mosquitoes
suck on your shoulders  

you have always felt older
than your age
but today has regressed you
to a child  

all stained and tangled  

all knots you can’t undo yourself
all words spelled out
that you can’t understand    

your body tantrums with rage
and inside your chest
your heart sinks to its knees

pleads with you
to make it better  

you press your palm against her
and let her cry
let her pound wild
with pain
until she wears herself out  

then you carry her to bed
and lay with her
until you both fall asleep