This dark is the same dark as when you close
your eyes I whisper to our son while he
catches his breath. It is well past midnight
and he will not describe the face of what
he fights to unsee. By his feet, the green
glow of a nightlight retreats into blue,
slips softly to red. Above his bed: notes
we once had time to tape onto the latch
of his lunchbox, flights of origami
swans, throwing stars and fortune tellers. When
your turn comes to lie beside him, this is
the bridge he’s set to repeat: Always an
angel, never a god—and so you hold
him close like a saint shadowed by the axe,
cradling her own haloed head in her hands.
Copyright © 2024 by R. A. Villanueva. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 9, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.