Forty at Four A.M.

by Laura Maffei

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The ghost of a grown boy who takes my arm
has come to me tonight; as well a girl,
long before the call of my alarm
will wake me to the busybody world.
She stretches wide her urgent mouth to me
and I provide what only I provide
while he already is what he will be,
and all of this existing side by side.
There’s nothing here profound, or so extreme
it can’t be brushed aside to lose its power
at first light — but time’s indifferent stream
has hit me at the flightless, helpless hour,
and I can only feel it closing in
on daughters or on sons who might have been.

Laura Maffei is the author of Drops from Her Umbrella (Inkling Press, 2006) and the founder of American Tanka, which she edited from 1996 to 2008. Her MFA is from The University of Texas at Austin. She teaches at a private prep school. Her current project is a memoir.
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Published 16 March 2010