By Sara Gillis
I left a layer of skin
A sample from each arm
In the sand at Tut Hill Park
I went first
On the worn yellow slide
To show him it wasn’t scary
But it was
He saw my body splail
As my fingers gripped the sand
Stiffening myself to display a smile
When Mama crocodile tears threatened to fall instead
As I climbed atop the play set
Where his eager eyes were tracking mine
My face markedly grim, but concealed with a grin
I said, “Lionel’s turn?”
“No,” he said, without his usual crinkle in his eyes.
“That’s okay,” I replied.
I paused, just for a beat,
Before I spoke.
“Mama got two owies.”
His face wrinkled with concern
At the sight of my pathetic little wounds
One near each elbow, a matching pair.
And like I always do for him,
For the pretend ones and the real ones and every one in between,
His little lips brushed against my Mama owies
And he smiled.
“All better, Mama?”
My heart weakened
At the sound of his little voice,
His newly-minted two-year-old innocence slipping away by the second.
“Yes baby, thank you,” I choked out
As I pulled him in close, breathing in his sweet smell of apple juice, baby sweat and the lotion I’ve smoothed onto his body his whole life.
As his pudgy arms encircled my neck,
I wanted to bare them all,
All of my Mama owies,
From the scar that stretches across my abdomen,
Marking his arrival,
To the silly little bumps where his head meets mine a little too hard.
Because I know he’d make them all better.
He always does.
Instead, he toddled off
Across a bridge
To the steering wheel perched atop the structure.
He vroom, vroom, vroomed
As I, his Mama, watched,
Owies ceaselessly forming and healing in my heart.