You say yes to the sunlight and your pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing, don’t try to lie to yourself.
—Hermann Hesse, “Wish Jar”
It is not hard to say yes to the nausea
when it’s your son’s and he’s lying on your belly
on the old wicker couch with foam cushions
and wave follows wave, and he shivers.
There is nothing romantic about this.
There is no way to say no. But there is love
and there is yes in the way that you carry him
to the shower, how he dangles his head
from the crook of your arms, how his legs
are more fabric than flesh. Do not squander this moment.
Cradle him as the warm water falls, choose to be naked
and covered in bile, to carry the weight of
the one that you love, to bathe his flushed face,
to be soft. To croon nothing but comfort. To baptize
yourself in this moment. Sun shaft in the window.
Gold in the spew. Yellow smell. Quiet splash on the wall.
Memorize the thin staffs of his ribs, the startling muscle
of his five-year-old limbs. Already you cannot explain
how you came this far, by some miracle to this small
white tub where the water heater has run out of warmth
and you want nothing but to be where you are.