Poem with Winter and New
Mattress and Hawk
That winter, it was the new mattress—
too hard, and then the foam topper—
too soft—and my back twinged in the
mornings, and I cried and threw my glasses
in the kitchen when a teacher asked me
to be at school for five, blank minutes.
That winter it was eleventh graders. It was
American Lit, and transcendentalists,
and horror. I tasted meade for the first
time. I grew angry with my sister, who
seemed to do little in the house but live
in the space that had been my study.
The space with windows and light, space
with a closed door, upstairs, away
from the pets and their water bowls.
But now: wine and the couch and my children,
a movie together. Now my back upright.
It is not time yet to sleep, or encounter
the adult worry of sleep: waking
in the middle of the night, worry
over what we have done and what we
have left undone. Not loving our neighbor
as ourselves. Not loving ourselves.
I rubbed my husband’s back last night
just to touch him. Just to say: love.
To thank him for sleeping on a foam
mattress topper, a cloud. For the ludicrousness
of loving when your knees are sinking
in foam and your hips have no leverage.
For all this. For everything. The hawk
does not cry and cry above us for nothing.
Hannah VanderHart lives and teaches in Durham, NC. She has poetry and reviews published and forthcoming in Kenyon Review, The American Poetry Review, The Adroit Journal, Rhino Poetry, Poetry Northwest and elsewhere. Her book, What Pecan Light, is forthcoming from Bull City Press, and she is the Reviews Editor at EcoTheo Review. More at: hannahvanderhart.com