Here, night spills its ink
and few citizens notice,
sleep being memory and hope,
moments stolen upright in a rocker,
the woozy feel of not enough, a way of life.
Here, women pace, speak in whispers
and in high unfamiliar voices that are almost song.
Held so they'll rest, the babies feel warm, wilted.
Their smell sour but sweet
the way fear and love are indistinguishable
as together they govern the lamplit rooms.
Hour upon hour, the mothers study
these new ancient faces:
lashes and brows, wet demanding mouths,
the visible pulsing of veins.
Harm, we think, conjuring falls, bruises,
the near silent rhythm of breath silenced.
Cries rising from windows are mostly the babies,
but, rocking and nursing, some mothers weep too.
We were merely girls before crossing this border,
our empty arms impossibly light.