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Unreasonable fears by Suzanne Matson

I will miss you when you're dead, my son tells me,
and because he is three he means it.
Because I am the one missing, the one dead,
the lesson I offer in response is more feeling than, say,
an impromptu talk about what holds the moon up
or where traffic goes. When I tell him
not to worry, that he will be grown,
that even his children might be grown
by the time it is time for me to be dead,
the lie sticks in my throat--
not because I am sick or plan
an early death, but because my death
turns in me like the worm I cannot see or feel,
invisible like the noontime shadow beneath
my feet, only waiting for the sun to slip
so it can inch forth.
I have him convinced, though now it is I
who cannot keep from fretting when, when.
Surely not before he is through with me,
but he is my son, he will never be through with me.
Though he does say one day,
in the middle of an entirely different conversation,
Mom, when you are dead
don't worry,
I'll find all your teeth.

Suzanne Matson is an associate professor of English and teaches creative writing and contemporary poetry at Boston College.

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