Three poems


I leaned back on the lawn lounge chair, and its metal leg gave way.

Rolled to my knees. Edged across the grass

to where my chocolate milkshake sweated in the sun.

The daily addiction that soothed my soul through my tongue receptors.

The routine that gave me purpose while I waited.

Round and ripe, and always waiting.

Stretching the limits of my most expansive jumper.

Last week and the week before, I had swallowed the castor oil. Twice.

Mom advised me. Said the thick, slimy oil would get labor going,

like it had with her when I was born.

One full bottle each time, topped with orange juice.

You stayed comfy in the birth sack, when you slipped out so slick,

she had said. And wasn’t that just something?

To be born with a caul? Like a sage or witchy woman?

That’s what old-timers say. Babies born with a caul

might have psychic powers, and likely won’t die by drowning.

New-timers might say, Save that caul. Sell it on eBay.

Mom remembered how the neighbors all came out of their houses

that day, stared at her from their front porches,

as she and dad drove to the hospital. Later, she discovered,

it wasn’t her they were watching. They were scanning the sky

for a tornado that had been forecast to come from the west.

But now it was 15 days and counting,

15 days past my own baby’s due date. The castor oil left

only a dark memory, a nausea that had jailed me

in the bathroom for hours. Worse yet, nearly everyone I knew.

Everyone waiting on babies, had already become a new mom.

Their empty tummies sagging, they lay content

in hospital beds. Bitches, I thought, whose babies were due after mine.

Bitches, whose babies’ naked legs kicked the air, whose babies’ tiny fists

didn’t beat against taut flesh. So, I would grab bricks, I reasoned.