POETRY: Sara Cooper – Elephant Giving Birth

 

Elephant giving birth
I click on the video called elephant giving
birth.
This search and click, search and click
a thing we do now, he and I,
to make the time
pass.

And there she is. As promised. Pacing. Her
mouth
a wide and soundless yawp. Opening and closing.
She shifts her weight from side to side,
agitated, waiting

for what will happen.

Other animals do not feel pain the way we do,
my husband says. As though he knows. And
the narrator

says something in a baritone voice about
standing back, allowing.
The music is tribal. Pounding drums.
All wrong.

We are zoomed in now. Balloon-like casing
oozing
from her. What is that?, my husband asks.
The sac, I say.

And I am back on the floor of our bathroom.
1 a.m.
10 weeks along, though the heart stopped at 6.
12 hours in and my body is dropping clots
the size of my fists. My doctor’s words, you
have to pass
the sac, my refrain. And my question back:
what will it look like? I mouth moans, not
wanting
to make this known. Not wanting this to be out
loud.
My husband asleep in the next room.
Like this?

The baby elephant drops with a gush of blood
like a river upended.
The mother turns to see. It is not moving. So

she begins to kick it. She kicks and kicks and
turns away and turns back and kicks.

She will kick the life into it.

And I’m stuck now in this narrative. Praying
for the impossible. 2:59 remaining. Kick,
I roar. Keep kicking.

The camera zooms in on the newly born. No
life.

In a final effort, she wraps her trunk around
the newborn. She
is gentle now, coaxing out the breath with
desperate squeezes.

And as if it has always done, all along,
the baby elephant
opens its mouth. And closes it. Opens. And
closes,

exaggerating what living looks like.

I watch the mother watch her  newborn.
Muscles slackening, focus fixed,
reckless kicking of moments ago not even
a memory.

I’m telling you, it ended this way.

 

This poem originally appeared in Sara’s book Mis–, published by Grandma Moses Press (2014). Reprinted with permission.

 

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POETRY: Willows – Stephen Mead

 

Willows

Cigarettes smoke, trail & sway,
& thus we, Mother, we also blow out
across the expanse, the lips.

On the edge, they say, on the edge
is our quadrant, a grove of willows,
the wilderness, the town of block houses
spilling orchids from their windowsills

before the desert, the Dust Bowl,
the tundra only man dares
(or is fool enough)
to traverse.

I say we’ve been there too,
out in the open, exposed to the root.

I say we know the wide oceans breadth,
the fields & factories map-large as a quilt
stitched in plain detail by Grandma Moses,
by Sojourner Truth.

Who knows?  Who knows
is an answer, a motto for what the future
may bring.  We know by standing, Father,
looking down, looking up at the earth’s
cycles, its resurrective past, its ongoing
firmament.

That path says:
So, I see you chain smoke, yet also
nurture, cultivate farmland, & observe
the heavens for their proof of mystery.

We too, yes, are evidence.

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POETRY: the inn at castle rock – Jon Huerta

 

the inn at castle rock
(a poem for Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl)

 

bisbee, arizona
woke up on a crooked
balcony at day break
overlooking downtown
it was a long night
like all the others before
i was still half lit
twenty or so small towns
lay in the wake of empty cans
well whiskey and song
some would call it
a fruitless endeavor
i’ll say it was the best
view of various
hardwood floors
across the southwest

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