Life

Poetry

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

 

Life

1.

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.

 

2.

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.

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