by Alina Stefanescu
Four children, one flaxen, one ginger, the other two dark as smoldering embers. They sleep in the same bed, each forming a curl atop the mattress. Four curls that never tangle. How would they grow never sleeping stretched tall? Tell me, how would these small coiling shapes impede their development? Be vigilant, mother. The vigil is yours to invent anew each evening, fresh vigil keeps you bolted to the foot of the bed, eyes fastened to little faces. Imagine the ballet lessons they ought to begin. Any day now, the piano. The pacing back and forth, a rhythm section, bedtime percussions, the lullaby of worry worry what. Four children you have but only three you can keep. Mother, how will you choose? Which of the four will you lose? All the waiting for losers at night. Mothers, fathers, uncles cheering from metal bleachers– all the team spirit held against fright. I am a mother like any other whose allure is counterfeit. Lullabies laced with germ theory. Acting the part until a curtain of nightmares covers me. Four children, I see. One to lose. A story taking years to unfold. I wander from room to room in my black linen robe I tell you the suspense is killing me.
Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama with her partner and four small mammals. Her poetry chapbook, Objects In Vases, was published by Anchor & Plume in March 2016. She is currently finishing final drafts for Every Mask I Tried On, a short fiction collection. But she also is ready to throw in the towel and find a sweet-yet-raw-and-edgy literary agent. More online at www.alinastefanescu.com.