Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Changing Table

While the doctor sutured Naomi
and the nurses cleaned her blood
from the delivery room floor, I held my son,

his shape and weight calibrated
for my arms, and I was sure. I was sure
and then the months-long refusal to sleep.

How could these midnight caterwauls
be of me? How could I love a thing
devouring my time, a thing goading me

into insomnia? But this afternoon
lying supine on the changing table,
the boy achieves an improbable feat:

he sends an arc of artesian-clear piss
onto his own face. He’s shocked at first—
the slight sting of diluted urea in the eye—

but breaks into a grin when I can’t stifle a laugh.
Then another laugh and another slip out
until I’m bent in half and trembling, head low

as I try to hide my delight at the indignity
I’ve seen his face suffer. Hide it I can’t, and
between my chuckles and the trickles of urine

down his milk-fat cheeks, his soft gut spills
into its own laughter. I wipe his face then
and pick him up. His calves tumble over

my right arm and his fit in my embrace
is not as snug now as that first hour,
but his laughter shakes inside my chest

and courses through me like the certain ring
of a swing set’s galvanized post drummed
and drummed with the thick end of a stick.