The Night Riley Died

I don’t remember what book
I read to him
or which striped pajamas he wore.

I don’t remember how long
it took him to fall asleep
or if I was short with him.

I don’t remember how many times
he asked for water, or
climbed out of bed.

I don’t remember
kissing him goodnight.

I don’t remember pulling
the blanket
over his body.

I don’t remember the moment
he fell asleep.

I don’t remember
turning off his light.

I remember him waking to use the
bathroom, his face in the hallway—
eyes half-mast.

I remember hoping
he wouldn’t wake again
until morning.

I remember the guttural sound coming
from his room—a cross between a seal’s
bark and a human grunt.

I remember worrying
he had croup.

I remember finding him
in his bed on all fours
like a woman bearing down.

I remember yelling for him
to come back.

I remember looking
into his eyes searching for my son,
seeing my dead father, instead.

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