Repeating Nightmares of Caretaking

In night terrors, there are monarchs I could still save
(if only I get up out of bed) from my own forgetting.
A butterfly being eaten by a praying mantis on my nightstand,
the other night, or fat caterpillars drowning in a jar of water.
Last night, it was my own hands, falling off at last because of
milkweed poisoning, not just asleep because I sleep on them.
My mother used to have, many times, dreams about
an impossibly tiny baby, palm-sized, say — the baby belonged to her,
but she had forgotten, hadn’t fed it or bathed it in weeks.
My mother’s mother probably didn’t have night terrors or
repeating nightmares of caretaking; she was stoic and only wanted
that the world not destroy itself in war. Toward herself, she was
calm. A generation back was more fretful; my mother’s mother’s mother
taking to her couch with mysterious ailments. Fears. Later, in Florida,
she made people out of seashells, little ones, or seashell flowers and shoes.
I don’t know where they are now, and it bothers me. Did she dream about
her shell people, her shell jewels, lost and turning into sand?
These tiny things we invite in, we invite all the way in, some of us.

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Formatting note: WordPress is not kind to long-line poets. Where you see weird breaks at the end, it’s because I’m over the maximum width.

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2 thoughts on “Repeating Nightmares of Caretaking

  1. <![CDATA[
    The image of seashell people, dissolving in sand, made me shiver. It's funny how some things get into our heads and won't come out.

    You might be able to fix the line breaks by putting

    before the poem, and

    after it

    ]]> (If you see a weird bracket things at the start and end of this comment, that’s just me trying to make sure WordPress renders my HTML properly —

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