Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers

Nighttime I reach over & hold

my sleeping wife, our baby

stirring under her skin, his

body taking a hundred forms.

Sometimes he is the bright koi

pressed beneath the pond’s new ice.

Sometimes a salamander slick

in his holartic suit, his tongue

just waiting to flick. In daytime,

he is the plain loaf of bread,

what lets out a ghost when broken into.

Or a bag full of airmail, helixes

hemming the blanks: red blue. red blue.

Sometimes he is small and difficult,

clock gears tripping

as they count each tooth.

Eventually he learns to breathe

the lowest A into the pitchpipe

and rattles on for hours like rain

slapping the flue. Child,

creation is just another word

for a voice looking for company

in a half-empty room. We pretend

we were the ones to seed you

but the truth is that we’re no closer

to god, are translating all of it

in crude plasm & hyle.

We dull every timbre,

call all your limbs anonymous.

Now your hands begin

studying their shadow

puppet forms: beneath

this tentative membrane,

the phantom dog & bird.

These are easier than human.

Soon, even if we want to forbid it,

you will play a prizefighter

covered in someone else’s blood.

And then, at last, the lone moon

stinking in its own white vernix.

Born is the cruelest wage. You slip

from one bone cage to another.


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