Subject Matter

I don’t put my son in poems.
I don’t tally his words.

Or say that he sleeps with an arm
looped around each bear,
knees tucked in, face turned
into his dreams.

Because I only really breathe
when he presses his jawbone
to mine and laughs.

He won’t want this—
a reminder of how our faces
touch, our mouths close
and careless.

I have read the myths, I know the rules:
each day is a wave carrying him out—
I will not have him hate the shore.


Maggie Blake Bailey has poems published or forthcoming in American Poetry Journal, Foundry, A-Minor Magazine and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Bury the Lede, is available from Finishing Line Press and her full-length debut, Visitation, will be available from Tinderbox Editions in the summer of 2019. She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and two small children.  For more work, please visit and follow her @maggiebbpoet on Twitter.