Night Vigil
Renee Emerson

Night Vigil

I lay as close as I could to her,
a dam against flooding waters

of morning light through heavy-plated
windows. The nurses circled us

like spirits. Light coming in,
though I begged it not to; all night

I touched her hair. Her lips
moved to patterns, wondrous colors,

as her brain left its borders, drowning
from within the skull. Her stitched chest

bandaged, she looked almost normal.
Afraid to touch her, afraid not to touch her.

Her clothes were white with green bears,
pink flowers. I willed my body around her
body, a womb again, and kept her final hours.

Renee Emerson

is a homeschooling mom of seven and the author of Church Ladies (forthcoming from Fernwood Press, 2022); Threshing Floor (Jacar Press, 2016); and Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). Her poetry has been published in Windhover, Poetry South, and other journals. She adjunct teaches online for Indiana Wesleyan University and blogs about poetry, grief, and motherhood at