thoughts before his first steps

i sobbed into a caseless pillow. every
tear, a drop of guilt and each gasp a relief.

today, the thought of you needing me turns my
lungs into two tombstones. i hold my breath when
you stir. fearful. inadequate. broken in.

today, i only allow myself to be
with you when he’s around. tears surfacing when
my left palm begins to itch under your weight.

everyday i watch your father fall more in
love with you, and you with him. i’m a guest to
a love i created. a love i’ve wanted
all my life. sometimes i forget to mind it

other times it makes me ache to return you
to the depths of me. the place where you were mine
and mine alone. where we shared all our laughter
and dreams. when i was all you loved, and you i.

About the Author

Jamilla D. VanDyke-Bailey is a 28-year-old, pro-black feminist who uses her writing to provide a voice for silent traumas, and to hopefully create a sense of belonging amongst the misfits. She has had work published in The Southhampton Review, K’in Literary Journal, and the Santa Clara Review. Her collection of poetry, than we have been, will be published by Weasel Press in the summer of 2021.