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Nocturne, a poem by Edie Meade



My son wanted all evening all evenings 

in fall to sit with me on the porch. He wanted 

a bubble bath wanted to make Uno cards 

from scratch though I was so tired wanted 

pistachio pudding without the nuts. Snakes 

and ladders popcorn each unconsummated 

kernel accounted for and time on the stove clock 

the microwave clock daring to be different 

squared. Then when it was time he wanted 

to sit on the porch lay his head in my lap kick 

pillows off the futon he broke. I don’t remember 

what I wanted. I remember the weight of him 

his head on my stomach a pregnancy’s ghost 

and us rising and falling together like ship and sea.


2:35 a.m. a young man screams in the street 

plaintive enunciated “Ouch!” an icicle piercing 

the top of my head. Ouchouch help help 

Mom helphelp oh ouch oh MOM MOM

Where is my son is the Buick out front did he make it 

home has he been shot stabbed cupping his own intestines 

did he not pay the wrong person has he done it himself 

with the sword on his wall the sword on his wall

would I recognize the signs would I recognize his voice 

in pain has he finally done it. I descend nightgown white

grope through the oily dark slick live oak leaves burying 

my bare feet. The street is dead empty. The street is dead

empty. Call for an ambulance they send police. Somewhere

at all times a dying man is crying for his mother.


Finally, when I can’t sleep, I circle back 

to the way my son circled those bronze statues 

life-size abolitionists in the public square. 

I remember it so clean. The way he was when he was.

Reaching for their hands, eyes of liquid searching 

their faces to find permission. One small woman, 

statue, I have to correct myself, so lifelike was her hair 

in motherly bun. Hands long and fretted with veins

like mine he caressed. Gazing up. His knuckle divots 

already fleeting, his innocence a labor under every nail

the crescent moons of paint, all those river rocks turned 

to turtles, snails I helped him see. Of all the moments 

I took pictures, this one I did not. Of all the moments 

this is the one I call upon, tenderly, tenderly in the night.

Edie Meade is a writer, artist, and musician in Petersburg, Virginia. Recent work can be found in Invisible City, New Flash Fiction Review, Atlas & Alice, The Normal School, Pidgeonholes, Litro, Heavy Feather Review and elsewhere. Say hello on Twitter @ediemeade or