Loss of Little Things

I am twenty-three years old and I ask my mother
            to braid my hair, just like I did yesterday.

My parents and sister tease me gently, and I sulk,
            half-jokingly, but see, my hands are clumsy— I can’t do it

right, I’m grown but I’m not, and the braid comes out misshapen, so
            I’m twenty-three and I’m kneeling headbowed— a child in prayer,

with my clammy hands clasped, with my bent back, solemn eyes, fixed forward
            cause I know a secret. You see, I savor moments like this,

like jasmine tea honeyed to the point of being too sweet to swallow
            I’m lost then, thinking of little things that time’s greedy hands takes away

I imagine three spider women working on a tapestry that I won’t ever see
            the whole of— it’s all pieces, raw and bloody and visceral

entrails, lungs, slaughter. It’s all moon blue, fated, bated breath,
            sunken ships, lost girls, half starts and sharper endings,

crash landings in empty fields, the little joys magnified, and those
            litanies long left. The stars above, and you behind—

and I can see myself, but not what comes next.
            So, here’s the secret I’m not voicing:

I dream each night our house is burning,
            and I watch and watch. It consumes,

I am consumed, by the pit in my gut, burning rubble. Spiders watch from the corners,
            with their wide shining eyes, but do not spin a line to save me—

little hands that spin and spin and spin are not known for mercy.
            My biggest fear has always been regret. My biggest fear

has always been the realization of the words “the last time.”
            Solemn eyed children have always known the concept of endings

so I ask my mother to braid my hair, just like I did yesterday,
            and I will sit, with my hands still, and my eyes forward,

and I will pray that I can ask her to do it again tomorrow

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Erin Benton

Erin Benton is a student at the University of Aberdeen, earning her degree in Scandinavian Studies and focusing on Old Norse literature. She received her bachelor’s in English Literature from the University of New Mexico in 2020, and has been published in the school’s magazines, Scribendi and Conceptions Southwest, and has spent the past two years writing in a pandemic-induced haze.