Abacus

In the end, despite the months of physical and occupational therapy,
the question is always the same:
How retarded exactly is our son?
Because despite his fine motor skills
and his skilled repetition of pearled consonants,
there are those moments when he leans down
and tongues my husband’s knee
or sits up in shivering reverie
at the inflamed air, as if its very emptiness
was cause for wondrous, wide-eyed alarm.

And it pains me to say this even here,
to lay the word down like a skinned animal,
because the question itself holds its own betrayal,
as if through the very act of asking, I am confessing
a point at which I might not love him.

As if this were even possible.

 And on nights like tonight,
when my son stretches his small body
along the chaise lounge of my lap,
his blue eyes gazing up and then dipping
with sleep, I feel the entire universe
go soft around us. On nights like tonight,
I don’t scratch the milestones
of his development in my yellowed
ledger. I refuse to calculate his beauty
in this world by counting those small stones
over and over. I refuse to fixate my vision,
because in that counting I could grow blind.

In that blindness, I could lose sight of my own son.

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