An excerpt from

Mapping the Chaos
by Rhea Tregebov

Without Asking

My son opens his eyes in sleep
and looks up at me
from the bottom of his dream,
looks up at me from wherever he is to
wherever I am and who am I and who is he

in the gravity of a regard? What
constricts the muscles in
my chest and throat. It is
five years to the day
since I came to the hospital bed

where all seventeen months of his life
were contracted into the heart
of the machine that breathed
for him; a life I learned
could be turned on

or off like the thin,
translucent plastic of the faucet
the doctors slipped into the artery
of his wrist to gently draw
the blood-gas samples, the numbers

that would tell us everything;
all seventeen months drawn up
into the tightness in my own chest.
So small a body connected to
so many things,

especially me;
and I had so much tenderness,
even for myself,
I forgave everything
because he was alive.

Where does that look
come from and from where
does the knowledge that informs
it come?
What is this

we are given
without asking,
without expectation; what is this
we accept
with such little surprise.