whisper love while feeling an undecided hate.
Why did I agree to this journey? Everyone watching,
like media mongers, to see if we will make it.
Some worry, wring their hands and pray. Others gawk,
entertained. Others are not here at all but will examine our progress
later with judgment and opinion—and I will hear all of it
when I’m most worn out.
A nurse fingers my vagina, describing the scene, telling me
how I should push with my next contraction.
I’ll fucking show you how to push I think smiling warmly
into the ceiling, halogen lights dimmed for evening.
Tell me there are rivers, stars and trees I say to my husband
pointing toward the window.
He has been here all along, little difference it makes because
mother-with-child is a lone animal clawing, coddling,
carving home out of deserts complete with jawbone cups
and cactus plates,
rattlesnake blankets, rainwater drink, jack rabbit and beetle feast.
She and I were always one flesh and that’s why, now suddenly,
as the rifting comes,
and the wire jaws of Hell breech, barbed and surging, our bodies
ripping from one another as she breaks out into another country
and my body retracts than breaks out too--
then we inhabit our own bodies again, briefly,
until I grasp her in my arms here on the other side.
Wailing and tears—we are alive. She is alive.
Carloads of gaping bystanders ready now to cradle her. They reach.
I reach. She is passed around the room.
Exhaustion overcomes my power to resist and retain her.
They have her. My body has me. She wails. I hear.
They will return her, I believe, held against my will by sleep.
Kimberly is the author of White Goat Black Sheep (FLP) and her poetry has appeared in several literary journals including The 3288 Review, Temenos, Storm Cellar, Borderlands: The Texas Poetry Review, The West Texas Literary Review, Windhover, Ruminate Magazine, Relief, RiverSedge and The Berkeley Poetry Review. She is an MFA graduate of New Engl and College, a book reviewer for NewPages, an editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Poetry and Prose and an Assistant Professor of First-Year Writing at Michigan State University. Her writing explores trauma, sexuality, violence against women, motherhood, and displacement. To read more of her work visit kimberlyannpriest.com.