Mother and Child
by Anne Whitehouse
A gray mid-March day:

the bare branches lean

across the blank sky.

All colors moved indoors

where my daughter and I

play with her toys

laid out on the rug:

rattles, dolls, and trucks,

nesting plastic bowls,

a flock of yellow ducks.

Shakily she stands,

her tongue darting like a

between her pink gums,

she smiles, claps her hands,

and bangs the shell table

made by Great-grandpa.

She reaches for my face,

her hands stroke my ears

and clasp round my neck,

her cheek against my skin.

I breathe her mild scent,

I take it all in.

My baby pulls me hard,

she is so insistent.

She turns to press

her forehead against mine,

and the world seems to shrink

as if it held just us,

a game that lovers play.

Did babies play it first?

Now in my arms she lies,

her mouth at my breast,

a soft, avid pump.

She clutches me, and then

relaxes into sleep.

Night falls. The minutes spin

away in the dark.

Now I'm forgetting this;

I must have dozed off, too.

She sucks in dreamy bliss,

as her sweat gilds my arm:

matted hair, cradled head.

Love flows in me like a

river in a muddy bed

that roars around stones

shedding mist and spray,

and swells to meet the sea,

forever carried away.

Ephemeral baby

whose growth will replace you,

shadow and memory

till time will erase you,

To show you as you were,

my quicksilver daughter,

I fix you on this page:

Claire, eight months of age.
Anne Whitehouse is the author of The
Surveyor’s Hand (poems) and Fall Love
(novel), which can be downloaded free from or www.smashwords.
com. Her poetry collection Blessings and
Curses is forthcoming from Poetic Matrix
Press, and her poetry chapbook Bear in Mind
is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her
novel Rosalind’s Ring is a finalist in the Santa
Fe Writers Project Literary Awards. Poems will
be appearing in Confrontation, A Generation
Defining Itself, Sixers Review, and Verses and
Visions. Stories from The Bomb Shelter have
appeared in Boulevard, Alaska Quarterly
Review and elsewhere. She is also a critic and
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