When the dog wakes me up at 5 am,
I wish for a coyote to get her and then
regret that only after I’ve taken
the thought to my middle daughter, asleep
diagonally in her bed with her legs stretched
off the side, this daughter who cries out
at every loss, even the dirt sucked into
the vacuum, the trash at the curb:
Who takes it? Where does it go?
I’ll have to leave her
before I am ready or she is ready,
before we’ve had enough time
to bury our faces into each other’s
newly shampooed hair.
I measure the time in old toothbrushes
she mourns in the recycling bin.
In my middle girl, there is a God
who loves all and won’t let go,
God unlike the stories, never casting out
a child, unloosing the sky. My girl has God
clutched in the palm of her hand.
I hear you saying teach her to let go,
teach her to let go. No.
SARA MOORE WAGNER is the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award, and the author of the chapbooks Tumbling After (forthcoming from Red Bird Chapbooks, 2022) and Hooked Through (2017). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals including Beloit Poetry Journal, Rhino, Sixth Finch, Poet Lore, Waxwing, and The Cincinnati Review, among others. She has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.