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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Postmortem, Postpartum

Postmortem, says my husband when we bring the baby
home. He gets things wrong sometimes.
He has his beliefs: nonmicrowavable dishes
are microwaveable under 30 seconds;
ChapStick’s a ploy to weaken the lips,
creating the need for more ChapStick.
First the baby was breached, then beached,
which wasn’t that far off—a boy-whale
wedged on the distant shore of that other
world within me.When they cut

him out, and I felt nothing, and I saw nothing,
my sense of smell ramped up
the way a blind musician unpacks many layers
within a single note. I smelled the laundered
bedding and the anesthesiologist’s
citrusy breath. There was the previous night’s labor
sweat, but mostly cauterized flesh—
like damp hair singed in a curling iron,
only worse.Days later, when my husband

splashes bacon grease on the burner, and
smoke scales the pan, and laces the hall, I swear it’s
me, smoldering still, from the inside out,
like the charred cage of a house
burned down overnight. Its fat armchairs
and stocked pantry and the bad wires no one suspected: all
cinders collapsing under their own weight,
releasing sudden puffs well into the next day.
I shouldn’t get up, my husband says. So
he pats down the bacon and delivers it couchside,
directly on the stainless steel TV tray.
Some things he gets exactly right.  

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