After you leave.

Hannah Grieco


1. Tiniest fingertips, kissing one, two, three. 1AM, 2AM, 3AM nursing you over and over, your hand on and in my mouth, poking my lips, eyes wide in the dim light from the cracked bathroom door. I need you, you say. I’m nothing without you. Fill this deserted, dusty field with seeds and watch them shoot up, watch them grow tall, watch them bloom in your rain.

2. The moment I realize that we’re going back to the hospital is not when you punch through the window, the glass splinters glistening on your bloody fingers as you unclench. Not when you grab me and shake me and scream, Why won’t you let me die? But when you slide down the wall to the floor, sit and bleed and sigh, like you’ve given up. And I realize that each day since the first has been this constant barrage of heaviness you never asked for, that I keep making you carry, telling you, “Hold this,” and placing it in your hands, so like mine, insisting, “No, no, ignore what you know and carry this.” As if me, cawing like a crow, “The world, the world – it isn’t so bad,” would make the weight bearable, would make your back stronger, would make me a good mother, would reverse us, rewind us, shrink you down to a spark and pause so I could lift you up and cast you to the waiting sky.

3. My whispers at night soothed you, gentle bird whistles, cat rumbles vibrating against your scalp, the back of your neck. No hard language, no shaped sounds. Animal murmurs, curling your limbs in against me, cradling you like a newborn. Now I startle awake to the beginning of sunlight, the 5AM wakeup you trained into me. I open my eyes every morning like this.


Hannah Grieco is a writer in Arlington, VA. She is the creative nonfiction editor at JMWW, the fiction editor at Porcupine Literary, and the founder and organizer of the monthly reading series “Readings on the Pike” in the DC area. Find her online at and on Twitter @writesloud.