Step-



Jenny Molberg


The year before I became a stepmother,
I climbed the levee stairs, fed

the rest of my old self to the river.
That green leviathan shot my clarity like gin.

Impossible to imagine loving a man
with children I don’t yet know,

impossible to mother them
through fathoms of the past, impossible

to hear them calling me,
by mistake, Mom.

*

We struggle together with words, sounding
them out, my stepson and I, perched

on the bed like tightrope walkers.
What words can help

but those that make us smile, words like narwhal
and Jupiter. He writes in a hand

that reminds me of my own; his bantam words
climb up the page. Words with hooves,

words with horns, words without vertigo.
I say an impossible prayer, to undo, to repair.

Tell me how the story ends, he says,
but I do not skip ahead.

I want to see, selfishly, the unfolding
of his face in age, in story.