After the fever
by Erika Nestor

I only remember waking up to find everything

my pale nightmare
of the sun in a rainstorm and

my mother moving in and out of sight
stumbling and laughing,
the messy relief of night watch survived:
'my baby' chanted,
whispered, a thousand times. The bundle
of my body under three blankets, rolling over
and over again. Hot dry tongue, purple sky
becoming pink & how the room
grew larger as it spun.

My father sat sitting by the door,
his fingers curled around a cup of coffee.
Close enough to touch, the lines of his mouth
pulled down, my sister’s grey jumper drip
dripping on stained wood. The floor shook
when he stood up, and touched a single finger
to my glassy skin. Behind me the rocking chair
was creaking, someone’s dog
somewhere barking.

Beyond the great green incline
of the couch I saw my mother’s fingers
twitching over buttered toast, smelled
her sharp familiar perfume.

And yet: I saw her only
in profile, as I dreamed—
it might have been

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