Love does boast (or, Elegy for a Child)

but Ephesians says be completely humble.
I’d like to say I’ve seen a humble spark
not fizzle out or fuel a fire. Just
maintain within the limits of its burn.

I’d like to say I’ve seen a humble spark
turn into wood itself—deciduous.
Maintain within the limits of its burn
and never turn to ash. And maybe not

turn into wood itself. Deciduous
milk teeth of children shed after a time
and never, turn to ash and maybe not.
This time, don’t brush the fire off your shoulder.

Milk teeth of children shed after a time
of death. The gums drained of their blood. Feel it
this time. Don’t brush the fire off your shoulder.
Feel the burn of a baby’s bite on toughened nipples.

Erica Dawson is the author of two collections of poetry: Big-Eyed Afraid and The Small Blades Hurt. She is the director of the University of Tampa’s low-residency MFA program.

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