What surprised me the most
when I first touched
my premature twin sons
was how close my palms
could get to their hearts
thrumming against tender cages.

Their skin too sensitive to stroke,
I just held them close,
chest against stuttering chest,
almost heart to heart,
and I breathed close to tears
hoping they would not die.

I hoped not against hope,
knowing that if they lived
their bodies would grow
more secretive of their hearts,
followed by other secrets
making them only themselves.

No, I hoped for hope,
that they may live and grow,
even if it is a growing distance
from me, but so they know
and hold close other hearts
hoping they would not die.

-- John Lee Clark

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