In the Third Trimester, They Can’t Find a Heartbeat

It is the waiting that hurts. The long weeks
            of wanting. Hospice of memory & malice.
I petition the future for more days
            without rain. For days without the cries
of blackbirds overhead. They sense
            death. They know what we do not.
Any minute, the minutes will lengthen
            into a lifetime of forgetting. The oaks lean
into the wind. The river writhes by. The faith-
            less sky breaks itself over us. Once
there was a sacrifice for sin. And it was a bull
            like this one. A first born. I hear the cicadas,
loud in their fury. The dreams of daughters
            that I can’t displace. & I am the pilgrim,
traveling with fever. I am December, cold
            in the ground. I want the daughter to emerge
like a white horse in a clearing. To tell me
            the story of surrender. But she will die
one more time inside me. One more time,
            not a girl, but a dream. An incantation.
A command. Is my body heaven or Eden
            or the opposite of god? Some dreams are meant
to come true. At least, I fear that’s true.
            And what will be left of me as she comes true?
Cheap thrill. Cruelty. The red garment of my body.
            This new absence I’ve been courting
with the purple wounds of the peonies.
            The shadows of last year’s fields.

Originally published in 32 Poems. Copyright © 2017 by Chelsea Dingman. Used with the permission of the author.