the children in this house

in this house there are children i don't know
i spend endless afternoons
between half-unpacked bags of groceries
and paused bluey episodes
mastering you
studying and squeezing and memorizing you
and then you wake up

you mick
you graduated from the swaddle, you want your arms free
quietly left newbornhood, rolled over, smiled at me, not sorry for getting big 
my brilliant bubble of a boy, a rainbow, a sudsy mouth with a bursty laugh
but i'll keep putting you to bed in here by me

and you lucy 
you draw peace signs on everything, sign every picture "L.S.S."
you never run, always totter
a mysterious blonde wisp, accessorized like phoebe from friends
can you teach me to sew mama? can i do gymnastics class mama?
but you know fairies are real

and you eleanor
eleanor PI, open for business
interested, interesting
bollypop, bossypants
the latest career consideration: public defender, what could be better for you?
getting the hang of the layers beneath a wink
but you still want to hold hands on the couch

and you charlie
grandmom taught you the word "relentless" 
you stand your ground like the family prizefighter
"wow mom you look beautifuller than ever in that shirt!"
batting left, fielding right
a speckle of freckles
but your cheeks and lips are still puffy with pre-covid baby fat

three and a half years in this house
hiding, seeking, sleeping, fighting, righting, calming, 
bathing, losing, finding, wondering, thundering, stumbling, 
sailing, praying, staying
in this house