A nurse gathers up the afterbirth. My mother * had been howling but now could sleep. * By this time I am gone—also gathered up * & wheeled out. Above my jaundiced face the nurses hover. * Outside, a scab commands a city bus. The picketers battle cops * & ten thousand Soviet conscripts in goggles * kneel & cover their eyes. Mushroom cloud above the Gobi, * & slithering toward Stalin's brain, the blood clot * takes its time. Ethel Rosenberg has rocketed * to the afterlife, her hair shooting flame. The afterbirth * is sloshing in a pail, steadied by an orderly who curses * when the elevator doors stay shut: I am soul & body & medical waste * foaming to the sewers of St. Paul. I am not yet aware * of gratitude or shame. I do know the light is everywhere.
From World Tree, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 2011 by David Wojahn. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.