The child’s first night at home with just a sitter
Renders him inconsolable and bitter
At how unalterably time drags on.
There’s more, though, than his parents being gone,
That hurts—but all he can articulate
Are cries, and all that he can do is wait.
Next day, a doctor marks a line to cut
His flesh and mend the rent inside his gut.
His senses mark new memories: the reek
Of gas-mask rubber as slurred voices speak;
A stranger’s calming hands; his mother’s heels
Tapping away in spite of his appeals.
Later in life, his wife will read a theory
That love is learned by being loved, then query,
“How did you learn if love was just a show,
Mere words, with them?” And he’ll confess, “That’s so—
But when they feared, that time, I might not heal,
Perhaps they loved me for a time for real.”