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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