“My two daughters, bathed, flannel PJs…”

Chill of winter evenings, early darkness,
Workday ended, my two daughters,
Bathed, flannel PJs, together sleeping,
My writing time, rhythmed breathing,
Quiet music playing. Night hours, they
Hold each other in mother’s protective
Watch: safety, peace, warmth, electric
Blanket, heating pad, one sleeps hot,
The other chilly, they negotiate position,
Pillows, in minutes, settling into sleep.

One sleeps in pain, has bad dreams,
Early morning hours, announcing,
“Mama, I’m in pain.” Thus begins our
Ritual, hot bath, soaking leg and hip,
Soothing wet heat, then medications,
Tylenol to Fentanyl, they share same
Letters, but one is key-locked away,
Given sparingly. After hour or so,
Chilly girl returns to sleep or prepares
Breakfast, readying for work.

“How is she?” her adult sister asks,
Awakened, running bath water, bed
Emptiness. “What time is it?” Two more
Hours to sleep, shower, breakfast, into
Uniform, standing straight-backed,
Mother’s morning inspection, hair, dark
Eyes to boots, back again, she disappears
Into predawn traffic, bridges, tunnels,
Surviving on coffee and grit, her work
Days long and hard.

For my pain-fraught girl, getting work
Ready is gradual process, spooning down
Oatmeal, mother’s reassurance, getting
Dressed, lunch packed, simple flip-phone
Charged, ID, hair in tight bun, hardhat,
Work boots, Tylenol in shirt-pocket, day-
Long labours, chilling wind, steel deck-
Plate, she, too, disappears in morning
Traffic, bridges, tunnels, work days long,
Hard, online homework due tonight.

“Morning inspection, hair, dark eyes to boots, back again…”

Of the three of us, one did not get much
Sleep, up late, awakened early, cleaning,
Laundry, cup of Earl Grey tea, English
Biscuits, I crawl into bed, heating pad
Placed across my abdomen, mother’s
Visceral fears and feelings deep within,
Awaiting text messages, “I love you.”
Now I can sleep, few hours, cycle begins
Again: winter evenings, early darkness,
Workday ended, my two daughters,
Bathed, flannel PJs, together sleeping.

Poem for mothers and their adult daughters.
Thanks for reading. 

Social profiles