It was hot. The boy removed leaves from the maple’s low branches, arranged them carefully in a grid on the lawn. His mother, who had esophageal cancer, watched from the quiet of the breakfast nook, behind a double-pane window, her feet icy cold in the rush of air from the vent. Her husband slept upstairs. The boy had been meticulously laying out arrays for weeks: maple leaves, pennies, sheets of bland printer paper, Hot Wheels, Pokémon cards, etc. She didn’t know if it was good for him. She didn’t know if it was bad for him. Her throat ached. A spider drifted down so slowly from the ceiling on a silver thread, a hundred years of just spider, just spider coming down on a thread, holding her in place. Thank you, she thought. Do it again.
“Am Looking For,” a poem by Lillian-Yvonne Bertram