Evan, Breathing


Evan, nine months old, round eyes
still wavering from brown to gray,
interrogates the telephone
without a syllable to say.

His father pleads for us who wait,
eager, invisible, all ears,
two hundred thirty miles behind
the world that Evan sees and hears.

"Say hi to Grandma and Grandpa,"
our firstborn coaxes for our sakes,
as if his love could galvanize
some tenuous wire that absence breaks.

Astronomers who comb the sky
for signs that this or that is true
live on the static of the stars,
and tabulate, and make it do.

Evan, your breath is all we sense,
minutely bridging, puff by puff,
the miles, the days, from there to here.
It isn't much. But it's enough.


Rhina P. Espaillat, Her Place in These Designs, Truman State University Press, 2005.