Leaving Labor and Delivery.
LEAVING LABOR AND DELIVERY The light is relentless. There are no lampshades here. No dimmer switch. Night lives only in the sockets of windows. Nurses pop in and out like cuckoo clocks. They unwrap us and refold us. You in your swaddling and me in my bandages. Yes, I am your mummy and this is morning, this is afternoon, this is the long white night when we are basted belly-up by the constant whirring light. We are not ready for the dark you and I, we are not ready for the cold. We are hothouse bulbs in our bright incubator. In sleep you expand, my little loaf, and I keep bleeding between the feedings when the nurses flock like starched white cabbage moths. They prop my bubble wrapped torso up with pillows, peel back sleep's damp towel and roll you out. My milk is full of bees and danger, heady allergens smuggled within tulips beside our bed. You twitch, little addict, rooting toward this contraband. We are not ready for undigested air, for the vital flare of gasoline or jasmine, for sky greased by all-night diners and plumes of cigarette butts stirred from roadside gutters. I watch a patch of sky go blue then black, I watch the tarred roof bruise beneath the weight of pigeons. I am on a restricted diet. You strain the straightjacket of your swaddle. The nurse is merciless. She places you on my lap, pushes my wheelchair towards the door. Wards fl y by like pages in waiting room magazines. She parks us on the curb while your father gets the car. Sun slaps shut my eyes and for a moment there is only the imprint your new body makes. It re-creates the world.
Winner of the 2013 AWP Intro Journals Project in Poetry, selected by Ben Grossberg