My son, I have written poems about you and how you pushed yourself into the world in juxtaposition.

You came on the first “try.” We had too much wine. We had a house. We had jobs. We were tired. Why not? I knew I was pregnant weeks before the lines arrived. I just knew. You rushed in; you wanted to be here, but you wouldn’t come out. You were two weeks late, and I cried at night just wanting you to be here: to stop the in-between: the purgatory of pregnancy. 

They had to force you out, and when you came they said that you still seemed early: vernix-y, a coating of newness that was too new. Small for how late you were. Did you just want to stay in transition? Did you come here knowing that we were all on the way towards something else? Were you trying to make me breathe into that liminal space?

You have never been at home in this constructed world: school, noise, clothes, the limitations of empathy. You showed me that the systems in place were not real. That your soul and body could not be molded to capitalist form. 

Now you sit at home on your tablet during quarantine home school: which isn’t home school because we have been doing that for awhile and the sunshine and your friends and your curiosity of plants and museums and machines can be satisfied. I wish people would stop calling it home school. 

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Anyway, I sit editing graduate papers and your father sits downstairs talking to other people’s children on the computer, and you sit in your room playing Minecraft so we can all survive.  I keep thinking that I thought when we were told you were too different to be part of your school community, that your neuro-diversity made you too difficult, that was survival.

Now we are really trying to survive. How much screen time is too much? The mommy message boards have schedules and healthy snacks and lots of instagram posts, but I look at you, almost comfortable in this liminal space. How you want to hug us so often during this time. That you almost look healthier. You have grown a few inches in isolation. Your grandparents will be so happy to see you and shocked at your height. 

I keep thinking that you thrive in the in-between.That you are here to show us all that the in-between is important: how to rest, how to let go of expectation, how to see the world as new every day (even though the morning is all screen time while I sit and edit and sometimes cry in fear in the bathroom before coming downstairs),  how you seem to know that I need a hug and that you offer it without expectation.

 Without telling me it will all be OK.

 It is all here now. 

How you comforted me from inside.

Ashley Howell Bunn is pursuing her MFA in poetry through Regis University, where she is a graduate writing consultant. When she isn’t writing, she teaches and practices yoga and runs a small personal business centered on healing. She lives in Denver with her partner and child.