Breeding at the End of the World
All the animals in my infant’s world
are almost extinct. She is wrapped
in a brown bear towel after I wash
her in a bath shaped like a whale.
What little I know of whales and mothering.
A wide-eyed tortoise glows green into the night
making her room a starry starry night.
A galaxy, a wonder world,
her menagerie is full of mothers.
The panda and her baby ball of cotton wrapped
in matching flannel. The whale,
another, hangs alongside a wash
of nearly dead mammal mothers. They wash
over her as she gives into the night
hum of rhino, lion, narwhal,
and giraffe spinning above her head. What world
am I leaving her? Each night I wrap
myself in sheets and cry. Is this mothering?
A baby elephant lays down to starve when its mother
is killed. A baby polar bear washes
itself in snow unaware of its melting. Wrapped
around its young, an orangutan builds another night
nest to replace its stolen arboreal world.
Statistics swallow me whole. She wails
into the dark that’s heavy as a whale’s
sunken skeleton. My mother
did not warn me of this sad sad world.
We dream feed, both half asleep and washed
in milk. It’s a marvel we survive each night.
The morning heat slants through the room and wraps
everything in prisms. She wakes and wraps
her fingers around mine, spouts bubbles like a whale.
I kiss her toes with red wolf gnarls. My nightmare
lingers. I whisper mama, mama
to her nose and sing a Spanish song of colors to wash
away the troubles of this mundo.
My tiny whale, how much I want the world
to feel like home tonight. The sky washes
everything it touches, wraps us tightly like our mother.
Copyright © 2021 by Gloria Muñoz. This poem appeared in Cherry Tree. Used with permission of the author.