Spilling along my garden path—
          their panicles
heavy with airy white flowers
          a sway in the summer breeze:
their roots, I’m told, stretch thirteen feet—
          long and slender,
               like my son, age twenty,
and six-foot-three.
          At thirty, he left for London.

Wind blowing lightly beneath wings,
          a butterfly drifts from petal to bloom—
soft and soundless—like my son’s
          newborn breath upon my breast,
               a caress without touch.
When his body gave way to sleep,
          his head dropped gently to my arm—
his puckered lips yet sucking,
               miniscule popping sounds—
          my surface-feeding butterfly fish.

Lips settled, sounds hushed.
          I lean close. Nothing.
three quick inhalations — my son’s lungs
                    suddenly remembering to breathe.
I learned
          to accept the rhythm of this
               disquieting stillness—how
                    babies breathe.

Perhaps now his lover nudges him when he snores—
          or, if his breath falls quiet, might she
put her hand on his chest
               to feel the beat rooted deep beneath his ribs?