Playground light empties,
a milk river spilling
into evening. A child
refuses to end,
grows night eyes
and climbs an iron spider;

Mama's swinging
in and out of shadows,
father's faceless and unnamed.

Now, years,
you swing up again:
in tight files, brittle letters,
safe deposit lockers.
Names buried at birth,
tough as hide to find.

Mother you're more
than a cut cord, tissue
that wrapped me once--
pretty pink, a birthday
gift for someone else's party.

Father, I am more
than a musky memory;
more than a slight swell
at four months, unnoticed;
more than she ever told you.

I am borrowed.
I adopt habits,
a name, a fine crest,
a rootless tree.

These nights
dreams fold back,
through that child resolute
in faint light, till memories
dim and wink out.
Family photos turn, faces slide
back to day one,
no further.

Somewhere, telephones wait
to ring; hands
will reach.

1981 John Goss