After The Miscarriage II

Jennifer Givhan

We lived our first existence as if on an island —

the waving flag of a companionship

always sinking. From our hands

we rubbed salt into the pink slits of salmon,

picked lemon seeds from the skin,

pulp sludging our fingernails.

One sour morning I fished a softness from the water,

a weight resembling the drowning

infant of our past. Others gathered round to pay

respect to the dying or already dead —

and with only ourselves to blame

we dredged the bottoms of preserve jars,

sun-colored honey the only sweet that would keep

until even that emptied.

No one wept when we washed away,

no one had to. Why go back for something as abstract

as hope as love or need? It was animal the way I couldn’t

conceive anything beyond that fish-smell, that

citrus prickling as paper boats, cuts so fine

I almost never noticed we were bleeding into sand.

What else but ourselves could we hold

when the world began again? Our sendoff, our present —

each ensuing breach.

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