the old woman
rocks that boy
just as she had
his father before him
rocks him while he’s crying
his arm round her neck
eyes clenched but
loose enough
to let the tears past
rocks him rocks him
her eyes tracing the same line
up and down the far wall
rocks him as he’s yawning
with his face pressed
to her shoulder rocks him
till he falls asleep standing up
then she can stand up herself
and go to lay him down
just as she had
just as she had
his father before him

Randy Cauthen is Associate Professor of English and Poet in Residence at Cal State, Dominguez Hills. His books are The Use of Force (poems), Black Letters: An Ethnography of Legal Writing, and a forthcoming book of poems he has not figured out what to call. As an actor, he has appeared in the world premiere of Samuel Beckett’s Radio One. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, he now lives in Los Angeles.
*Photo courtesy of Ben Shepherd.
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