Tenderness

Last night the animals
beneath her window
crept out of hiding
to comb the dirt
from each other's fur.

Rising to watch,
she discovered the lilacs
lit from below by ivory vinca.
The street on the other side
of the trees continued
to contain its passing cars;
tenderly her teeth
let her tongue rest
against their curving backs.

Tonight when she lies
in bed again,
she will remember
the one kind thing
her grown daughter said today
after weeks of scrutiny,

and the moment at work
just now, when a stack
of Day-Glo folders
cascaded over her desk,
thrilling the white cubicle
with their descent.

by Erica Funkhouser

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