The mechanics of this body
have never made a baby.
They may have once held the start of a baby,
a clot expelled one morning that painted
a rare orchid in my underwear.
(The ovaries of the orchid hide behind the flowers.
They may bloom sixteen weeks awaiting pollinator bees.
Sixteen weeks is a long time to be beautiful).
I feel your uninvited worry under the skin.
I will shrivel like winter morning glories with no one
to toast a memory of me.
But I long for no soft porridge
in the crook of my elbows.
A baby’s head smells to me not of nostalgia
but of Wednesday’s curdled milk.
(Elliot Foley saw a spot of blood on my skirt
and called me Bloody Mary the next seven years)
Please, everyone else, pass this newborn around
as I’ve just discovered a perfectly good dog that needs lifting.
A dachshund will reliably fall asleep in my arms,
but even a barely sentient baby can decode a woman’s
fear of not supporting the neck.
On the Tip
Don’t mind me, declared my mind.
It’s cheeky that way,
waking me in the brittle hours of morning
when only the coyotes seem alert to the
the moon like a paper window shade
letting in too much light.
This (once) loved memory, cluttered
with donated furniture,
recliner heaped on loveseat heaped on green velvet couch,
corner shelves crammed with imitation Hummels,
their twee fingers broken off
or dipping into pies.
I wake and can’t remember the word for eyelid.
I plead with my husband,
What is this thing I can’t force to close?
jarring him awake in a nightly emergency.
Someday, all that forgotten language
will stack up in boxes in the corner of the bedroom.
We will ease open the lids, setting free an exodus of words
like thousands of tiny barn swallows,
flapping for their lives toward the chimney flue.
Feathers cascading down like a curtain,
closing shut over top of me, closing me shut.
One morning my husband will lean over to kiss me
and I’ll be helpless to place his face.
I can only hope I’ll feel tenderly toward
the stranger wearing his clothes.
Christy Prahl is a philanthropy professional, foraging enthusiast, and occasional insomniac. A 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in Peatsmoke Journal, The Blue Mountain Review, Passengers Journal, Ghost City Review, Unbroken, Clementine Unbound, Boston Literary Magazine, The Bangalore Review, the Drabble, Twyckenham Notes, and others. She splits her time between Chicago and rural Michigan and appreciates subways and silos in equal measure. More of her work can be found at https://christyprahl.wixsite.com/christy-prahl.