Sign Language


He knows because my hands

cradle his head, my fingers 

travel in packs across his arms 

and his chest, palm his chin, 

direct his smile toward mine.


Sometimes I rub through 

the short hair on the back 

of his head the way one does 

to a pup who’s been a very 


good boy, or swim under his 

elbows and over his shoulders 

to latch onto him like a warm 

marsupial in mother-worship. 


There needn’t be fireworks or 

pink hearts escaping overhead 

or even a mild molecular ripple 

in the air. I have decided 


I like being too old to anticipate 

the Earth shattering. What shatters 

is how everything gets to stay 

this way, exactly where it seems 

we will it to be.

RISA PAPPAS is an award-winning short filmmaker, published poet, and freelance writer/editor. Punky by nature. Fan of professional wrestling, feminism, and cartoon cheeseburgers. Editor at Tolsun Books. She lives in the Delaware Valley with a cat and too many houseplants.