Poems & Essays

13 Aug

Star / Sun / Snow

General/Column No Response

I.  Star

You were the second. Small in the womb,
we kept you alive with whispers and songs, nights
spent rocking in the chair, days at the doctor’s
listening to your heart beat. You were born
in fall. I lay awake all night as you
spasmed inside. Your father drove
us to the hospital, and it was all
red: the leaves, sky, and pavement. Your
head was a pointed star trapped inside
my pelvic bone, but they trimmed, sliced,
opened me up, and out you came screaming,
slippery with my blood. No apology,
but a pause as you laid your head
on my stomach, craned your neck, and
with livid, black eyes, you saw
me at last.

 

II.  Sun

You were the third, big and radiant
in my stomach, but
you made me nauseous at the smell
of grilled cheese. I was always sick
from too much sleep or too little, too
much food or not enough. Your growing
singed the edges of my day. You were a hot
thing in snow. On the day of your birth
I walked to the operating theater with a cold
spine. Many hands pushed down to wrestle
the abdomen. Then the nurse held you up
in the green light of the surgery. They brought
you close to my face to kiss your wet
head. I couldn’t rest until the warm clutch
of you was tucked beneath
my breast.

 

III. Snow

You were the first, the one not
born, seen once onscreen shivering with excitement, or
pain. After you died, they scraped
you out of me. But I don’t know what they did with
what remained. Knotted in blue plastic, or combusting
from the hospital incinerator, smoke hung with the first
unseasonal snow that year? Now, the flakes spin only
to melt on the warm earth. If you had lived, we would
have opened the door today, and I
would have said: Look, the snow flakes are
trying to come in, and you might have crouched
on the wooden floor, your small, round cheek almost
touching the floor, your eye so close to the snowflake, the tiny
perfection of its sharp, white symmetry. Gone by the time
I ask Can you
see it?

 

 

 

Zoë Brigley Thompson, originally from Wales, is now Visiting Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University. She has two poetry collections The Secret (2007) and Conquest (2012), and her third will be published in the UK in 2019.

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