Earlier this evening as I was giving the boys their bath
I felt him come to me —
Not just show up so much as arrive in me.
He didn’t ask if it was ok.
No – “Would you mind?”
Or – “It’s been five years…”
No. He just pushed right through me
And settled in for the evening.
Todd finished the boys’ bath for me,
Scrubbing their scalps and rinsing them off
After the soap suds grew gray.
When it was time for drying,
Todd wrapped the yellow towel around John
And the blue one around Andrew
And hugged each of the giggling worms
Until they squirmed out of his grip
And scampered to their rooms.
Todd followed Andrew.
Both were laughing as Todd tickled
Andrew’s feet and dressed him in his
Fireman jammies. “I don’t want trucks,
Mom! Not tonight. Want fireman.”
Todd winced at the sound of my name.
This was his night, not mine, to be alive.
When Andrew was tucked into his bed,
Todd found John sitting naked in his room
In front of his bookcase reading
“Good Night Moon.”
A sailor’s hat crooked on his head.
Todd had to hold onto the door frame
Just to keep from laughing.
He watched John turn the page
And joined in the “Alphabet” song
When John began humming.
After four or five or six bedtime stories –
Each of them: The Last One,
Todd helped the boys say their prayers.
“Thank you God for baths and jammies
And sailor’s hats and bedtime stories,”
He prayed as he laid each of the boys
Down in their cartooned sheets.
He kissed their foreheads,
Turned off the lights and whispered,
“Goodnight. Sweet dreams. I love you.”
Todd turned and found me
Spying on him from the hallway.
I wanted him to apologize for using me,
For treating me like something that could
Be pushed aside for an evening
Just because he felt like it.
Instead, he grabbed me by the wrist,
And held me very still.
His eyes piercing, his voice soft.
His words: “This is what it’s all about,”
Floating in the air
As my life returned
And Todd’s just rolled away.
Written 2005; Revised 9/11/19