“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.