Love Me More – Fleta Vincent

He wins hands down their love
I try to buy but can’t compete
with his breaking bread and pepperoni
pizza while I force feed broccoli and green
things down locked-tight boy throats
and four sets of adoration eyes
that proclaim their father Christmas
presents all year round, he buys
video games and super heroes’
transformation into amazing weaponry
that I trip over every night to the same
refrain “Yall betta get these lil men
out the floor before I throw them in
the trash”! amid their resigned male response
to typical female ignorance of the difference
with “Those are action figures, Mama!”

Their horizons are expanded
with trips to Michigan where he now lives
with his new wife, who is really nice,
away to Canada and the Great Lakes,
parks and museums with walking
stick insects over seven inches long
and beautiful butterflies colored
with spectacular wings bigger than
a sheet of paper pinned to black velvet.
Forever in their memories they see
every movie that comes to my town
and his while they feast on huge buckets
of popcorn with butter drenched mouths and
happy stretched out grins full of summertime.

I try to win my portion of love
away from the victor’s hold, with
a goblet full of things my money
can’t buy, but mostly I spend time
loving them past infinity, their favorite word,
and still I lose the prize of their widest smiles
and fiercest hugs of childhood innocence.
My fear simmers in bitterness underground
because they don’t remember how their father’s
rage was the other side of monster eyes
that followed us everywhere,
how we used to shake whenever we heard
his keys turning the lock to come in,
how we all breathed out relief in trembles
when he was gone, never gone long enough.

I tell my feet again and again
as they plod like an ox through
the lesser place of their affections,
not to worry about the size of the beloved
crumbs they nonchalantly lay in my hands
from leftover meals with their father’s
fleeting joy and transient lull,
and that one day, I will be the one
whose arms won’t stretch wide enough
to hold the bursting brown loaves
they will bring me fresh from the oven,
on their hands an aroma of sweetness
that I will remember long.