When it is Difficult to Express Love
             –for my mother– 
by Vaughn Neeld

Once, you touched me with love–
a caress of your cool hand across my burning cheek
as you pushed strands of sweat-soaked hair gently
behind my ear, my head on your lap
in a church that sat airless in the humidity
of a breathless night.

To a child of six, the drone of a deep southern voice
and the hum of circling ceiling fans
sounded like wasps whirring around and around,
rising and falling in a rhythm of praise
and beseechment–
humming, humming, humming–
until under the tender touch of your fingers
I slept.


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