by Maeve Coughlin
Each night I sing you a lullaby
For seventeen years
I have been kneeling by your bedside and
whispering to the back of your scalp
as if my voice will bandage your insomnia.
You tell me it does
because even in suffering from my selfishness,
you are selfless.
Tonight, I’m singing you
“Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons.
I’m mumbling the lyrics so maybe you won’t hear them.
I’m not ready to tell you that it’s my fault,
since I’m a coward and
a liar who’s been lied to.
It’s a safe pain reliever in pregnancy
Your daughter will not suffer and
no one will ever know you’re an
But I’m ready to apologize for it:
for the anxiety attacks and the nail biting and the
feeling lesser than your classmates.
“It was not your fault but mine.”
When you were little, I searched for answers.
I scoured for someone to blame.
I found my answer
in an old blunt, poorly rolled, fallen behind my vanity.
Seventeen years ago, I quit.
didn’t want you to remember
I was too high for your delicate little hands to reach.
“And it was your heart on the line.”
You tremble in your skin
while you pick it off your fingers.
You make yourself small
so maybe your brain will
remember to make your body breathe.
After years of being told it was
some higher power,
some twist of luck,
some brutal misstep in your DNA.
“I really messed it up
this time, didn’t I, my dear?”
About the Writer...
Maeve Coughlin is a senior creative writer at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. Her work has previously been published in Elan's volume 36, issue 3. She is a writer of both poetry and prose and intends to work in the editing as an adult.
About the Artist...
Julie Hathaway is a 12th grade student at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. At Douglas Anderson, Julie creates paintings representing queer joy and the healing of generational religious trauma. She creates art, generally with acrylic paint, because she likes how expressive paint strokes can clearly represent these unspoken feelings.