To My First

Deaf to high school Shakespeare
and geometry, distracted by
tender breasts and hunger.
I peer through the chalkboard
        and see you giggle at the sun as I
        push you on a swing in a playground
        full of real children,
        real mothers.
I hold you sleeping
and say a prayer
for each damp curl
tickling my chest.
Wishful thinking.
                I name you secretly
                in the darkness,
                imagine you have my eyes,
                his cleft chin.
                Whisper lullabies in the shower
                hiding the words of my sadness
                beneath falling water.
Afterward, in defiance
I say your name aloud,
scream it without a curtain
of rushing water.
Too late.
I no longer feel tenderness
or hunger. Yet
because you were not born
I ache
like a real mother