When he plays handball indoors
while brushing his teeth.
When he knocks down a picture with the ball
on the way to grab his backpack.
When he asks, Mommy, can I have some water? Mommy, can I tell you something?
When he sits down, his favorite blue socks in hand.
When he says, Wait, I have to get something,
as he throws his socks across the room.
When my chest tightens, You’re going to be late for school.
When he returns with a football, JustOne Hail Mary. It will be quick.
When my chest tightens more.
When my need to control time cinches like a corset.
When I bellow, No.
When he grabs my iPhone
and says, Siri, tell my momto let me throw a Hail Mary.
When I force a deep breath
and then another.
When he ties, unties, reties,
then double knots his shoes.
When he says, I know you’re annoyed with me, because you’re breathing loud.
When I remember being seven,
with my own agenda, my own simple breath.
When he imitates my breathing
to make me laugh.
When the corset unravels
like loose thread.
Chanel Brenner is the author of Vanilla Milk: a memoir told in poems, (Silver Birch Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Rattle, Cultural Weekly, Diverse Voices Quarterly, West Trestle Review, Muzzle Magazine, and others. Her poem, “July 28th, 2012” won first prize in The Write Place At the Write Time’s contest, judged by Ellen Bass. In 2014, she was nominated for a Best of the Net award and a Pushcart Prize.