“Do you love Mama?”
As I ask I feel a smile sneak though my lips
no longer pursed to reflect the serious tone and expression.
But you knew I was teasing, anyway.
And respond with glee.
You toss your head back,
flashing your toothy grin.
We lean in
you say “Dada”
You toss your head back again
so we lean in
participants in the same silly dance, a game
you plant a soft kiss on my cheek
squeeze my neck
fingernails sharp, digging
I don’t mind.
Later I will be surprised when I see the red marks. One they they will not regenerate. There will be no more bruises on my legs — the markings of both a human jungle gym and safe haven.
My scalp will be free of all soreness from grabbing and yanking. Hugs will be a little loser, and fewer.
“Who is my baby?”
You say “Isla”
“Who do you love?”
You pause, already of master of anticipation.