The doctor tells me
due to the baby’s position
there is a chance
he may not survive.
will last the rest of my life.
The ghost of his possible death
is above the birthing bed
waiting for me
to mess up.
I suck on ice chips, blood.
I take medication, force
my son to remove himself.
It is August. The windows are sweating.
Hold the pain in and push.
How I breathe,
how my husband holds a numb leg
is how we count
is how we count
the length and type of story
we will tell.
Somewhere in this room
is a key to the home we own,
the knowledge of how we will return.
Swollen opening, blood
mother. I will heal easier
this time, they say;
a body can bounce back
to its owner, they say.
The doctor was right.
My son may not survive.
I have to hold him
I have to bathe him
I have to feed him
I have to bring him
up to the light of each hour,
examine the growth
of one month to two months,
of toddler to child.
Am I doing this right?
Am I doing this
A smile at three weeks is impossible,
I love you.
Hold my hand, hold my hand, hold
my hand .
From a distance,
it is always hard to see
Garbage bins line the alley, overflowing.
It is quiet
for the closing slap of a lid,
a few birds chirping.
The phone wires swoop, hang
their outdated tangled mass in the still air.
It is quiet,
for the sounds of children’s indoor play,
easy laughter bouncing off the wave of flapping curtains.
You would not be able to tell from glancing
down this alley
that women have been made
unhuman here – one picked up and thrown
into the back of her own trunk.
She was lucky to escape, the Tribune said.
A man was punched three times in the face
behind our house last month. A domestic dispute.
We called the police. They drove by
without stopping. And then
there was the woman at 4am
slapped then tripping over a pile of trash.
In the daytime, the dried blood
turned black, folded itself into the tar of patched up potholes.
We hold hands. We live here. In the center of the alley,
either end is a far run when our legs cannot seem to bend.
Here, my three-year-old daughter decides to say,
Ima, the sky is a dazzling blue.
JAMIE WENDT is the author of Fruit of the Earth, a poetry collection published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company, which was a winner of the Illinois Women’s Press Association Book Award. She graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with an MFA in Creative Writing, and she received a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Drake University. Her poetry has been published in a variety of literary journals, including Lilith, Raleigh Review, Minerva Rising, Third Wednesday, and Saranac Review. Her essays on Jewish writing have been published in Green Mountains Review and the Forward. She contributes book reviews for the Jewish Book Council, Literary Mama, and other publications. Wendt teaches high school English and lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.
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