by Ana Doina
A wrinkle between almost invisible eyebrows; you frown in your sleep. I have no one here to tell me what to do, how to love you, how to care for you, only books by Dr. Spock on the nightstand—an old translation Father sent and the newest English-language edition. Many things do not match anymore. The book from the old country, stained with grits, gives potion recipes, breastfeeding advice. The new book, still smelling of fresh ink, mentions brands
of formula milk, ready-made ointments,
disposable diapers. Oh, the hours I spent as a little girl swaddling dolls in cloth diapers! Mother or Aunt Rada would show me again and again the proper way to fold and tuck the soft cloth. Their hands so smart! My own hands clumsy, I feared I’d never be
a good mother.
Now you’re here. Your miniature toes, your fingers
curled in a small velvet fist. Now, the diaper part
is easy. Mother, Aunt Rada sent long letters,
wise advice about feeding, discipline, only
none of it matches your hunger, the formula,
the order of life in the new American
edition of Baby and Child Care, and I have
no one here to teach me a lullaby.
You sigh in your sleep. When you wake up you’ll look at me, trusting I know how to fold and swaddle the world, give it to you just right for your fingers to grasp. And I can’t read English well enough to find a lullaby Dr. Spock might have included in his new book. You open your eyes, search for my face. I start singing the only song I know, about a mother and a child, alone, one dark winter night.
Previously Published 2022, Paterson Literary Review #50