The Plaid Blanket
I cover my son with the fuzzy plaid blanket
I bought spontaneously on Christmas Eve,
spying it out of the edge of my eye
at the grocery checkout, of all places.
to break up the chilly whiteness of the hospital bed
and offer a scrap of hominess
in the stern, ringing room.
The fleece provides warmth
that the thin, sterile hospital blankets can’t match,
no matter how many you pile on.
At home the plaid blanket
lives in a shopping bag,
packed and ready
for when fever sends us running to the ER.
Then I lift the folded softness from the brown bag
and stretch it across the foot of Eli’s bed
in the children’s cancer ward
to claim this rolling metal island as our own.
When the blanket becomes soiled,
I hurry to the hospital laundry,
scrawl his room number in marker
on the hard lid of the washer.
Inside, the blanket
has a heyday,
sharing its colorful fluff
with all its neighbors
as they churn together in the sudsy water.
Pants, shirts, and socks emerge
covered in red, green, and white fuzz,
small bits of comfort
clinging to Eli’s clothes
like homespun snow.