Sleep Training
by Karen L. Jones

His cry shifts over time.
First shock, then anger,
then sorrow, bereft of hope,
his mama just an object in the room
like the crumpled socks
on the floor near the bed.
She's like a dream of mama;
not her, just a shell of the woman
he knows. She looks impassive
as breakfast toast. Head bowed,
as if in prayer. But there is no God.
There's nothing in this world-this world
that's gone from a bottle of warm milk
and a cuddle in mama's arms, and a sigh into sleep-
to this. A mattress on the floor,
crib gone, and this stranger in the doorframe,
chin down, back to her child,
shushing him every once in a while,
and putting him back in his bed,
again and again, ignoring his pleading cries.
She wonders if this is where it begins:
The room where his very own mama
became the first woman to break his heart,
without even a whisper of warning.

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