A Part from Her
My wife has a dream, which begins and ends
In panic so utter and sudden that it commands
Her body, and mine, and will not subdue
Until we leave the room. It is
That our infant son has been in our bed
And is gone. I know this dream at once, the rush
Upright, the blind hands patting the sheets, the
Still and deadly way she stands, searches again,
And wakens, with the dream still dry in her mouth.
The dream began in pregnancy, but struck
Full force at his birth and continues, at times
To force her to find the part of her that is gone,
And she cannot rest until she knows exactly where
He is. And together we find him, and touch him.
Now our friends have lost a child. And we wonder
In the secret of her night, if his mother dreams,
And combs the sheets, and goes to find him.
But no night is dark enough to sleep,
And no dawn is light enough to wake,
And what she can never find is not a dream,
But every day, every day, every day.
(Previously published in St Anthony Messenger)
Paul Shepherd is former writer-in-residence at Florida State University. His novel More Like Not Running Away won the Mary McCarthy Prize and was published by Sarabande Books. He currently runs the tennis instruction programs at the University of Virginia, is editor of Hospital Drive, and is on the ski patrol at Wintergreen.
Photo ©Richard Beban