Poem: “Baby, You”

I squeeze my eyes shut against the bright light and try to imagine
sun on my face, and the padded table a chaise lounge. The nurse,

her voice low, I hope might sing something. Instead, she asks,
Do you want Advil? And covers me with a pale green blanket,

tucks it tight around me, a well-practiced swaddling. My legs splay
specimen-like, feet high in the stirrups, and she says, You won’t feel

a thing. Only pressure, and tells me to count backward, start with—
I’ve lost track already and can only imagine how she would have been

beautiful—because—beheld—by me—baby, you—thought dissolves, and I fall
to the center, a child in the shell of a body, a woman. Only, the shell cracks,

fissures like desert earth. But I feel nothing. Whatever pressure—
to praise him, love him, laugh, look away, look alive, when I felt dead—

all past. I wake, and the nurse helps me to stand. I’ve had a hard time
standing up for myself. She asks, Did someone come with you?

I want to say: No, he came in me. I don’t say that.
Pressure to be polite when I’d rather be political but am not,

really just want to be safe, to be near kindness, kin, kindred spirits.
Those spirits vanished, when I left him, and my kin called me

crazy, accused me of breaking down like Dad but I was breaking out
of what felt like prison, out of my shell. Hell, I nearly broke out the champagne.

Not so fast. Two slim lines in a plastic window, and I came straight here,
to the clinic, scared to have you with him, to have you in me.

Oh baby, you wouldn’t be safe.