Counting Breaths

Maybe you never outgrow

the feeling of lying in bed, waiting

for your mother’s return, the moment

her waxy lips brush forehead,

engulfing you in the boozy perfume

of an evening away.

I stand at my child’s crib

and the sleep I assumed dreamless

is troubled by some demon.

He whimpers, pants--

and I am there

to smooth away the world.

How long will this last?

How long will he remember

the scent of me entering his room,

returning to my spot above him.

I count his breaths and revel

in this short-lived power

to answer my child’s prayer.

Patricia Davis-Muffett (she/her) holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota and was a 2020 Julia Darling Poetry Prize finalist, a 2021 finalist in the Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award, and won an honorable mention in the 2021 Outermost poetry contest, judged by Marge Piercy. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, Quartet Journal, Comstock Review and Gyroscope, among others. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, and makes her living in technology marketing.