When the doctor came in, I was still / in that other place, the ocean where your blood / met my blood in caves and our baby breathed / without breath inside me. I knew she was coming
Poetry by Monica Wendel
You know more than I do
about being born, you were there
when I wasn’t—when I was somewhere
above my body—the room a dark hollow.
I woke to your weeping face. Our son sleeps
and your paintings move, lines bending
around space. Yellow scrubs, blue scrubs.
The anesthesiologist up all night, flirting
with my sister. His shaking hands,
his dad jeans, his drive
to White Plains. Your paintings breathe
our same air. We live with them.
A space opens on the canvas and we enter.
When the doctor came in, I was still
in that other place, the ocean where your blood
met my blood in caves and our baby breathed
without breath inside me. I knew she was coming
to tell us what a mistake
it had been, all of it, that they were wrong,
and our baby was fine—
You wore boxers and a black t-shirt,
barefoot, sprawled beside a window
that looked over the Hudson.
I still hadn’t seen our child’s face.
I wonder who was most wrong.
The baby wakes, eats from me.
You saw him before I did,
touched his foot, let his fist curl
around your finger while I slept.
I had no doubt, when I should have doubted.
He rests now in the crook of my arm, and
I rest with him, his tiny breaths
under my hand. I don’t know
what’s alive and what’s never been.
A quilt, a crystal, a promise. You dig
through the canvas. My flesh
dug out by metal, split open
twice. The pink unfolds, deepens.
A square unbuckles. In this painting
there are bridges and rivers.
And our child’s cry—telephone wires unspooling
across a city.
Monica Wendel is an assistant professor of composition and creative writing at St. Thomas Aquinas College. She is currently at work on a young adult novel.