For the longest time I thought the night was furred,
a mass of soft hair fallen each dusk.
In my first hours, I rode my fatherâ€™s chest as though
it were the back of an animal or woolen hill, rolling with slowness
and unquestionably the whole Earth.
Cushioned by his hair I spent my first night thereâ€”
above his heart, lungs, ribs.
Small with early birth, nothing in me had hardened yet,
not even the minute musculature of my lips
learning to curve at the breast and drink.
As my mother slept, he gave me more time in his warmth
without moving, without crushing me in the size of his hands;
my young father in wonder as to how anything thrives
and us both asleep where it was safe.
The next time I saw something so tender I was lying naked
with a lover. As he rolled over, his heart slid sideways and hung
in the loose rigging in his chest.
It was soft, the size of my infant body, and padded like a flipper in sand.
I was drunk having suckled at a wine bottle all night, young and dozy
and lost in the heartâ€™s hammering.
Green-veined, I stretched my long neck to him, my lips hardened
with curve, to keep him alive by study and vigilance.
I was held sleeping in my fatherâ€™s arms so I could grow up and learn
this exact terror, here, where nowhere is safe,
the whole Earth soft with perishing. It rises off us like hair.
So we hold each other, watch closely as though
our beholding has anything to do with survival.
~ Meg Reynolds
Meg Reynolds is a poet, artist, and teacher living in Burlington, VT. She holds her BA in English and Arts and Visual Culture from Bates College and her MFA in poetry from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Her work has been published in Pine Street Poets and Pomeroy Street Poets Anthologies through Honeybee Press as well as Gravel Journal, Prelude Journal, Wildage Press, Prime Number Magazine, and the anthology Monster Verse: Poems Human and Inhuman as well as forthcoming work in Mid-American Review and Southern Quarterly. She is the co-director of writinginsideVT, an organization that offers supportive writing instruction at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in Burlington, VT.