I’ve gone belly-up for my prodigal
and his knock-kneed swagger of hit-or-miss.
It suits him, the fall from grace.
Wafer-thin, minty-fresh, proto-punk.
Everything wasted becomes the boy,
crowd-sourced collar of hickeys blooming,
the headless glamour of youth,
all that I’d given up for lost.
My prodigal returns to me
without his keys, his coat, his shoes,
tapping his familiar tattoo at my door
as if I still had everything to give—
a kingdom, a cigarette, a fatted calf—
and all he had to do was ask.


Some mothers fear the worst. They still believe
in the fiction of control. Poor kittens.
Poor mittens. Poor sacrificial cotton socks.
I seem to be the bearer of bad news;
blue-eyed princeling, anime-bright,
articulated idol, towhead intactus.
A smile so sly you’ll forget your lunch.
That smug reflex of maternal pride.
Been there, done that. Took the fall
from the broken bough, cradle and all.
Almost a year since I almost lost him.
Lost the plot. Lost my head. Lost the habit
of believing in a time when “the worst”
was still good enough.


I know I’m lucky to be forgiven,
pretending to release him.
This flattening fear is just my ticket,
punched, pocketed, and then misplaced,
along with his milk teeth; his sterling
silver rattle, shaped like a barbell;
and other treasures I thought I could save.
Daydreams. Relics to prove I was there,
when needing me was all the rage,
before the rage became
the question I couldn’t answer.
False god, with my vicarious pain,
and just a couple of apron strings to offer
between creation and sacrifice.


He’s wandered back into the fold,
trailing clouds of Marlboro Red.
Has anything changed? His chin,
sprouting its slapdash soul patch,
punctuating the air of innocence
on a tear. My wayward lamb,
never met a wolf he didn’t like,
and nothing so tender stays lost
in the night. Not here, in Hollywood.
I don’t know how not to hold on.
I remember us still, on Primrose Hill,
spinning on the roundabout,
how sure I was not to let go too soon,
his small hand, wholly in my grip.

by Mia Sara

watercolour by Kim McCarty