Syndrome

Maria remembers Timothy, 1958 – 1965

I hear you now in memory
across four lanes of cars and thirty years,
the whimper of your terror rising from the doorway where I’d left you,tethered like a puppy in the rain.
 (I know I needed cigarettes; I always needed cigarettes to light in the face of other womens’ pity.)
Your snub nose flew a rag of snot across your little moon of face
raw red in the extremity of grief.
You pierced my heart with your muezzin call of fear;
a strangled cry arose against the roar of starlings on a winter’s night in Birmingham
Mama!
Down on my knees in the dogshit and diesel,
kissing away the mucus and the tears.
(The passers-by avert their eyes; it’s rude to stare at accidents, and your face was more accident than they could bear)
Your first and only word was Maaa!
Mother? Maria? It opened up my heart, your miracle of utterance;
the selfsame thrill as later when I heard
those first faint metal voices from the moon, and thought,
“They’re there! And we can hear them! “ Aldrin, Armstrong.
Warm like us, familiar amidst the frozen dust and strangeness,
voices crackling down the starlit miles – tonight again among the cars,
my Timothy is calling from the moon.