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.