My wife comes home, cold, slides
into bed to warm against my sleepiness,
and sighs. That snow. I drove
through everything. To the toddler
who never walked, every Friday
for eighteen months beyond predictions,
his slack presence swaddled on the
living room couch. Encephalitis—
nothing wrong with that little heart.
Though the tiny mother’s had broken
long ago, and now her nonstop sobbing,
the father posted like friendly stone,
the older brothers already back in bed.
She’d held him dead for two hours
before the nurse could carry him outside.
How are you I whisper, my wife’s body
beginning to settle. Always sad for them,
but happy for the baby, who was too big
for the funeral man’s basket, small enough
to stow beside him on the seat.
D. R. James’s latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020); his micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and printable-for-folding at Origami Poems Project; and individual poems have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and journals. He lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan.