after hiding a half-emptied bottle of popov in my sock drawer and
At 3:31 AM the strange noise of my vomiting
woke my mother who rushed into my
room and found me lying face-up, alone, choking
on my own yellow bile. She turned my fifteen-year-old body over
and slapped me on my back as if she were burping a baby.
She tried not to think it, but it was easy enough
to see: maybe I would not recover. Ignoring the taste
and smell of my stomach acid, she put her mouth on mine
and blew air into my lungs two breaths at a time.
She pumped my chest the way a mother might
pump air into her son’s first bike tires: she was calm
because she had to be. And because of her calmness,
I began to breathe again. Even after this, she did not settle
into anger with me. Rather, she wrapped her arms around my chest
and held me on my side till morning,
now and then brushing the stiff, vomit-coated hairs
from where they kept falling in my face. She rose as the sunlight
began to bring shape back to my room. Though I was too heavy for her
to lift completely, she pulled the sheets from under my weight
and washed my body with a wet cloth where she could.
When I finally woke from the blackness, remembering nothing
of the night, I was in my bed. But she was there—my mother.
She was there watching over me. It took me years to understand.
Christopher Watkins lives in Chicago where he is a student in DePaul University’s MFA program in writing and publishing. His poetry appears in such journals as After Hours, Blueline, and Bosque, among others.