“Goodnight,” Ensign, May 1971, 72
Softly aging here
I move from bed to bed
and measure out my tired time
in lengths along their languid, covered legs.
Five daughters sleeping to my touch
spread across the pillows
honeyed to their hair—
they take my kiss in ways as different
as their eyes and ages.
Eight balls up tighter,
nudges me, and sighs.
Fifteen startles wide and then
collapses into quiet recognition,
smiling. Seventeen hardly stirs but
breathes against my cheek some
gentle sound. Twelve tenses, turns,
and pulls me down in fierce acknowledgment.
And nineteen rolls away and covers up my
brazen tattoo on her cheek.
I move toward the stairs
Vulnerable, divided into fifths,
and come to you
to be made whole.