Why in Some Hospitals They Don’t Let You Hold Hands During Labor

Consider the perineum  
stretched like cheap nylons

each night, two fingers 
then three dipped in oil  

opening the taint’s
buttery seam. Consider

the bloody asterisk
of mucus plug,

amniotic sac
that refused to break

until I unhooked 
from the saline drip

and danced until I pissed
myself, urine streaming pink

down my legs. Consider 
the wedding band

my husband removed
before I crushed

his hand at ten centimeters,
bit his knuckle as if excavating

myself from a wreck;
excrement and buckets of ice, 

the mirror someone placed 
between my legs until I understood 

I didn’t need it, closed my eyes
and orchestrated my own

resurrection, cupping the dark
oil of my daughter’s hair

as she emerged. Yes, I would have 
pulled my husband into the abyss with me,

tearing open in every direction 
like a star. I would have cracked 

his carpals like a piano’s brittle keys
like snapping the neck of a dove.

I would have burned the whole place down
to get where I needed to go.

From I Am Not Trying to Hide My Hungers From the World (BOA Editions, 2021) by Kendra DeColo. Copyright © 2021 by Kendra DeColo. Used with the permission of the publisher.