When I lift Avery over the crib railing,
catch whiffs of pink lotion
that have made his hair curl as tightly
as his smile & feel the warm comfort
of his head against my shoulder,
my concern about holding it down as a father
dissolves quicker than rice cereal submerged
in breast milk—Avery’s wailing, a recorded 
song I gradually reduce to silence.

He sees his bottle floating in a Pyrex
cup filled with water & flaps
his arms at high frequencies
audible to the ears of corn. The rate
he’s growing catches up to a hummingbird’s
metabolism; he can migrate from the leopard-print
couch to the mahogany television stand
without having to rest & preen
on the thin branch of communication—
his constant chirps, washing
over the living room like sunlight.

Inside the measuring cup’s steam,
there’s a soft ballad encouraging
me to believe each pregnancy
is different. I’ll never know;
several areas of my son’s brain
are causing him to no longer engage
with my smile & the silly fish lips
his mother makes. He prefers staring
at running water; “Avery Langston
has known rivers ancient as the Egyptian
ankh inked on my forearm”: it’s what I say
before I place the bottle in his mouth,
before I bury my face into sorrow’s muddy bosom

Photo: Thu Nguyen.