Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2015  v14n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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My hand slipped
the surgeon said

but I promise
I wasn’t drunk.

I hated him.
I was so grateful

for the C-section
sideways scar,

and the one
under it.


To throw off the body
of the father

and mother
we pretend

we didn’t come
from anywhere.

Travel, for me,
is the outside

and the inside

I am a stranger
and finally

knows it.


When you arrived
in Belfast

you saw no further
than my body.

I woke up
at all hours

to the idea
of form,

to the squalling
of your form.

No exile from
childhood no

nostalgia no
longing for home.

I couldn’t hate

what I made
from my own material.


Those years
fallen away

like the eggs
of the children

I wasn’t having
while caring for

my father.
Now I take

the baby’s foot
in my mouth,

spit out seven
tiny moons.


You who did not
ask to be born,

who live
at our mercy—

you owe us


Your mother
nursed you

when you were
a baby too,

my father says.
You should

forgive her.
I look at him.

It’s not
a question

of forgiveness,
I say.


They said I

my parents

when I had
a child

of my own.
And I did.

But I was

by what
I understood.


Standing in front
of Dubuffet’s Belfast

and Child—

in the primitive

I see the admiration
of the father,

his jealousy
as he watches

his child
being nursed.


I would give
all this—

the careful lines,
the images

positioned just so—
to have a mother

whose biochemistry,
whose dopamine

receptors allowed her
to cherish me.


If I die

will always

think of me.
I must

be more careful
crossing the street.


The last time I was
in Rome

standing in front
of this Pietà,

I was eighteen,
a virgin.

Now I am not

in the body

the ages of art—
I am the body.


I show
my month-old son

to my new colleague.
She stares fixedly

at his blond head.
Is overly polite.

The next day,
someone says,

You’re new here,
so it’s okay.

Her son killed
himself last year.

He was doing
better we all thought.


I am seven months

so big that
my brother says,

Let me open
that door for you.

Then: But after
you have that

baby you’re
on your own.


For the first time,
I don’t fear

other women,
their potential

cruelty. Or worse—
their desire

to be close
to me.


The baby is done
being fed

by his father
in the rented room

in the foreign
country I have

brought us to
for the sake

of my professional

When the baby’s full,
he gets that

glazed, milk-
drunk look.

I can only get
any thinking done

while he is
dead dreaming.

I am told
the biological

for wakefulness

is to prepare
us for sleep.


The conservative
female politician

melts down
during the campaign.

Goes catatonic
with her handlers

before the debate.
Says, I miss my baby.

I need to be
with my baby

the Downs kid,
her fifth.


My husband’s skin
cracks from

his hands

ten times a day
after changing

the baby’s diaper.
My left breast throbs

from not feeding
the baby myself.

But I have
to write. And yes:

the room
is a cage.


I entertain

by guessing
which parts

of me he will
come to despise.


The baby
is older.

There is
another baby

who is older.
I can again

an interest

in history.
I sit in a chair,

about Proust’s visit

to Venice
with his mother—

the fever of
their symbiosis.

You’ll never be lonely
, someone says,

laughing. It’s when
they dream

that they
most cry out.  end  

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