lost years (seconds awake)

She was hearing everything that went on in his heart, like a person who can trace a map with his fingertip and conjure up vivid, living scenery.
―Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

you wake us with your coughing
in the middle of the night

you not yet two and now sleeping
in our daughter’s old bedroom

we bring you downstairs to our bed
as grandparents do (as parents did)

briefly i sleep between your coughing fits
and there you are in a dream also

when i see you in the dream i say
“what’s happened? what’s happened?”

then i hear in reply “she is five now”
so i begin to cry for those lost three years

your coughing wakes me from this dream
lying there beside you so wonderful and small

i am washed over by the lost years in a dream
and the seconds awake ticking you there as well

i reach for your tiny hand and stroke your palm
a fingertip caressing the cough away soothing us both

—P.L. Thomas