A Theory

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Barry Abrams

A Theory


      The child’s first night at home with just a sitter
      Renders him inconsolable and bitter
      At how unalterably time drags on.
      There’s more, though, than his parents being gone,
      That hurts—but all he can articulate
      Are cries, and all that he can do is wait.

      Next day, a doctor marks a line to cut
      His flesh and mend the rent inside his gut.
      His senses mark new memories: the reek
      Of gas-mask rubber as slurred voices speak;
      A stranger’s calming hands; his mother’s heels
      Tapping away in spite of his appeals.

      Later in life, his wife will read a theory
      That love is learned by being loved, then query,
      “How did you learn if love was just a show,
      Mere words, with them?” And he’ll confess, “That’s so—
      But when they feared, that time, I might not heal,
      Perhaps they loved me for a time for real.”