Published on Academy of American Poets (

Dancing, before you were born

It was like the universal scene
for miscarriage
in the language of film
when I woke up in a pool of blood.

The doctor said the trouble
was with my placenta.
—“But right now, the baby’s dancing”

Right now, the baby’s dancing.


Copyright © 2021 by J. Hope Stein. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 6, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“When my doctor told me my placenta was bleeding and there was nothing I could do but wait and see if it got worse or healed on its own, my brain filled with onomatopoeic loopings about this ‘trouble with my placenta’ contrasted with the image of this baby dancing inside me. Both so intimate. Both completely out of my control.”
—J. Hope Stein


J. Hope Stein

J. Hope Stein is the author of Occasionally, I remove your brain through your nose (Poet Republik, 2017).

Date Published: 2021-12-06

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