You scrape your knee, a small cut, but now a boy
who misses his mom, and the men aren’t having it.
I drop my book, as you knew I would,
only woman, only sympathizer in our home.

I scoop you up, as you knew I would,
carry you to the rocker, swaddle you tightly,
lean in, question softly through sobs
to get at the crux of distress, you nodding
to give me clues, wailing when understood.

We rock in this state of understanding, you quieting,
save relapses over male insensitivity.
I show you how to trace a circle around the wounded
knee to self-soothe; you manage a smile.

You chat a bit about things you want to do, a nature walk,
tic tack toe game with tape on the carpet, hear them hoot
in the next room, declare I love you so Grammy, scurry off,
back to the business of being a little boy.

Any poet would know to end the poem here,
but these remembrances make me weep, wondering
how children of this pandemic will fare not knowing
the embrace of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends?

Nancy Austin holds a master’s in psychology, ran a Community Support Program for individuals with mental illness. Her collections are titled Remnants of Warmth (Kelsay Books, 2016), The Turn of the Tiller, The Spill of the Wind (Kelsay Books, 2019), and a collaborative anthology, Stitching Earth to Sky (Water’s Edge Press, 2019).