by Amelia Van Donsel
A friend tells me this
and that while she pinches a bluish
stream from her nipple (she is breastfeeding,
which I find unintelligible) for the baby.
Others have told me that a baby is a good
thing, but I think a baby is a circle,
aware of its intactness. Are you
warm enough? she asks without looking up.
Yes, I say, but realize that she means,
of course, the baby as she
watches him nurse,
almost like a calf
drinking from a big, docile camel.
The gaze draws between them
as they flood themselves
with each other, and
she, my friend, is a mirror.
From the window, I watch a man leave
with no umbrella, so his shirt goes filmy
in the rain. But then his time is not mine.
His apartment overlooks hurried things
before the body can take them in.
You ask me blankly, while washing the greens,
what did you do when you lived
in the country? When I told you that
I wrote poems, you said
you strike me as a doctor-type.
No, never a doctor
giving orders and injections or lifting
up a child to set her
upon the crinkly paper.
You were like me, yodeling
in the ash of thought and getting nowhere.
I’d like to know what kind of woman
I must be so as to be a poet.
Once, when you ran back for diapers,
I held him budlike above the stroller,
trying to understand his smallness.
My terrified fish lover, you called him
(this was May of ‘98), and I remember
his eyes following your distance,
his soft forehead turning until
I lost who he was. He is the stem of us
reaching out weepily in the street––
he wants you, only you,
his cries through a ruined tunnel
wander back to me.
I love the phlebotomist––
she speaks dark, like a robe.
As she finds a vein,
I look away and think
of fields in a long gaze
moving like one face.
My son shares her lyric hunger
in the mornings when
his teething studs
my fingers with dents. Traitor,
his eyes almost say. But then
she’s taken all the blood
she needs for her thin flute.