we had one good day together.
i could hear his high-pitched cry during naptime
so i peaked my head in to see him,
without him seeing me.
he was laying on his belly
with his head down,
tears trailing out of his eyes and soaking his light blue mattress sheet.
the other eleven littles in his room slept peacefully,
wrapped tightly likeburrito babies,
but lucas tossed fitfully,
i went in and scooped him out of his high barred crib,
even though i knew we were suppose to let them cry it out
during nap times.
lucas never cried himself to sleep though,
he just cried and cried,
or stayed quiet,
staring out at the blank wall.
jiggling him we walked up and down the hallways.
i tried to put him back after ten minutes of walking,
but as soon as he realized what i was doing
his crying started up directly.
i took him out into the sun and we sat in the green grass.
he laughed a lot that day
as i tickled his round little belly.
balloons were tied in the trees because we were celebrating
after naptime the other kiddos joined us on the lawn,
and someone passed out chocolate birthday cake.
i put a little crumb into lucas's mouth
and he opened and closed his gums over it
but wouldn't swallow it so i took it from him
and ate it myself.
we snuggled and cuddled and sang happy birthday.
lucas smiled and smiled,
and then finally fell asleep.
his weight felt heavy after a while,
and his bald head dripped sweat down my arm,
but i held him until my shift was over,
and then gently returned him to his bed,
and covered him with mosquito netting.
i peered at him through the bars
and he looked totally at peace.
i have to remember this day,
because it is one of the few where
i don't think of fevers
or crying and praying
and feeling scared sick.
i have to remember this day
because it was my son
wanting my attention
and giggling and cooing and living.
i miss africa,
and a lot of people don't understand
how i can miss a continent.
but you see, my boy lies in the land.
you understand, my baby is buried there
and the flowers that grow and the rain
that falls and soaks the earth
and gets carried back up to the clouds and down again
bring with it small pieces of my son.
the trinkets of his tiny body are still within the soil
and the grass and the animals
that live and grow and roam
the continent i love.
can't you see?
africa is lucas.
my happy boy.