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“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.