switching sides

baby boy expels the other breast from striped knit v-neck with tiny fat fist
tugs it by its nipple to agape mouth, tongue reaching
fresh milk
for continued sleep, for further dreaming
he flops, rest-deadened limbs hot and heavy across my chest and belly

for three nights straight he pins my left arm so the hand falls to aching numbness
on the third day it does not wake
remains a stranger to objects it touches
like a fellow commuter on the subway,
unknown hips pressed intimately, swaying with the train ride, earphones plugged firmly
never speaking or looking,
my fingers grasp and do not know
the whole of the arm twitches,
trying to shake off the irritation,
tries to wake the radial nerve

on the fourth night i move from the right side
of the bed where i have slept the last eight years,
mostly in rooms where this was furthest from the door,
an odd, unintended feng shui of my marital sheets,
a silent quivering mousy voice that wants the husband to protect me from intruders,
or the voice of my genes that says to last longest, to survive

in the home where this baby was born, the family formed,
the bed angles me closest,
summons my transformation into the mother bear,
putting myself between the nighttime killers and my offspring.

my numb limb forces me to switch sides,
to let the nerve plump again,
forcing the fingers to feel
the husband protects once more from the unseen beyond the door
and my arm straightens to relieve itself

baby boy notices not,
goes on with his constant back and forth dance,
preferring the furthest nipple at all times,
regardless of what it gives

switching sides is his envy of the other,
knowing that it too drops what he desires
his sleepiness craves it, craves me
drinks me in left
and drinks me in right.

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