Diaper Rash by Kate Rochford-Price

Eleven o’clock:

up and down,

rocking back and forth,

waiting those agonizing moments

for the bottle warmer to do its job,

and a half hour later

more grunting from the side of the bed.

Then up and down again,

rocking back and forth,

trying to understand.

I sing Once Upon a Dream

and Somewhere Over the Rainbow,

and when I run out I break

out the Christmas songs.

Twelve o’clock:

up and down,

rocking back and forth,

making more milk to no avail

and asking what’s wrong?

For the love of Christ, what is wrong?

I just want to fix it for you.

A half hour later:

a piercing cry from the side of the bed.

Your eyes are wide open because you don’t know

the difference between daytime and nighttime.

Then up and down again,

rocking back and forth.

I lie you on my chest,

which seems to work for a while,

but then no.

I check my phone to see

o’clock and tears

threaten to come

from frustration and helplessness.

Your father rolls over

for the millionth time in blissful sleep.

You finally drink again and nod off.

I lie awake

for fifteen minutes trying

to do the same while I can,

only to be jolted awake by a dream

where you, tiny as you are,

speak to me in full sentences

and push me away.

Oh, please, don’t grow up

just yet.

 

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2015-16 print edition

-Image credit to Society6