The days are too long and the nights come too early.
My legs waver and
my arms droop and
my feet ache.
This labor of love, this daily ritual of care:
a cross-marked life that seems a far cry
from the glory of that tree

My house looks different than it used to.
Scattered toys and gummy floors —
remains of breakfasts,
furtive snacks stollen in secret.
There’s chalk on my window screens
and crayon on the wall.
These and other toddler-sized holes and
toddler-sized spills now proclaim
the presence of my dear ones.
I’ve scrubbed and I’ve mopped,
stooping down on bent knees,
breathing deep for the strength to do
just this one more thing.

Even so  —
A gentle lullaby
a soft warm cheek
messy fingers
smelly feet —
their grubby hands grab on to my clothing,
leaving their benediction for me,
and their arms,
outstretched,
invoke the presence of God.