Kate Puxley, Rapture, 2018
Charcoal on paper
1.9 x 1.6 m

I fear the first lesson I have taught my daughter
is to fear. I wake up each morning startled
from her quickening—
small bones gaining traction
within me, those waking phantoms of biology.

Not even I know the exact sound
of myself, but this syncopated heartbeat
and ocean-gut is her first music. And then,
the daily coda of worry: I envision
news clippings thick with blood flooding
her home like ink in water.

I warn her, I am Wagner
with heartburn. I cannot be alone, though I am
never alone anymore. She is the bud
in my flesh, though I had believed my sun
too harsh for bloom.

I imagine fear’s imprint on her tiny body, slippery skin
failing to graft on her soft bones
like dampened rice paper sliding over stone.
Find the escape route, I beg her. Change
the genome. Make yourself

a cool shell, some evolutionary adaptation to stay away
the hot clamor. My world is constantly sounding off
its pain. Outside of me, I promise her, quietude:
a jar of cream gathers dew
on the counter, a copper ring is lost
under a book.

Kate Click