It’s not 5 am. The shutters blink against the dark, hold back the daybreak
while the bedframe sighs & turns on her side. In the sleepy quiet
of the morning, socks stretch from toe to top & night-dried hair bubbles
out from under the sheets. Your daddy snores. The dog’s warm
belly hugs my leg. This is sleeping. One more hour. This is dream.
Your little hands hold my cheeks, kiss my nose & scream: Mama!
Let’s go! Mama! Outside! Outside! “ok-ok” I say, “little baby, just give mama
a minute.” But there’s no waiting. You rush away, make a break
for the closet, pile shoes & shoes & socks & shorts in a surrealist dream-
scape. You’ve got three fingers in a sandal & I thank this concentrated quiet
for the chance to pee. I consider dressing, but it’s still summery & warm
& I’ve spent my allotment of solitary minutes rinsing soap bubbles
down the sink. “damn bubbles” I mutter to myself & the Bubbles!
laugh their way to you. Better that than “damn” I guess. Score one for this mama.
Bubbles! Outside! Let’s go! Bubbles! You sound like bells, twinkling & warm.
You jump not-off-the-ground-at-all, but full of effort & almost break
your neck trying to pull the birthday bubbles from the shelf. They teeter quietly
tipping quickly on the edge before I grab them. Delighted, you spin as if in a dream
& blow kisses through an imagined wand, a slow-motion dream
where night falls away & you’re surrounded by a thousand shimmery bubbles
incandescent and holy, falling from the sky like so many round & quiet
pins of light. Oh little baby, you’ll never know how your mama
spent all her wishes down to the marrow, all her magic for just this break—
how she’d give up every luxury: music, laughter, love, hot coffee & a warm
bed for this—early mornings on the front porch with you in warm
socks but no britches dancing this bubble dream
your no-jump catching the bubbles & grab-smash-break-
-stomping them with glee. Mama! More! More bubbles!
So I blow more. The sleepy house shakes her head, whispers “mama
you’re a sucker” & I know she’s right. I laugh a quiet
laugh. The sun is up & pouring his loud light over the last quiet
of the mountains in the distance. They wink their knowing & warm
peaks at me. They know it’s hard to be a good mama
& they think I’m doing alright. I hold on to a bit of that dream,
hope that someday you’ll think so too. I blow the last of the bubbles
in the air. Tell you “they’re all gone” & in a single beat, break
your heart. You’re not quiet about it. You wail your dream
of bubbles in stuttering warm breath against my neck Bub-bles!
“sweet girl,” I say “your mama loves you, it’s just a little break.”