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fetal demise
by Don Narkevic

my old man waits
outside in his pickup anxious
to get back on the road he worries
about speed traps the price of diesel
about having another mouth to feed
says it’s my fault not being careful
the doctor doesn’t look at me
tries to explain the test results
I stop listening after he tells me
I detect no heart-
beat  there’s nothing
I can do you’ll have to wait
until after the weekend
I start feeling like maybe it is my fault.
when I get back to the vehicle I tell
my husband he’s quiet drives as I cry
later he paces half an hour around the living
room then vanishes on a four day run                            
I prepare meals I do not eat
as I lay on the couch my live child rests
her head on my belly she grieves the baby
sister I promised I tell her god wanted her
for company his house so full
of empty rooms but by jesus
I don’t believe god cares
to have another child again
let alone worry about mine
after I put her to bed
I dismantle the crib
I fold maternity clothes box them
maybe I’ll mail them to my sister-
in-law expecting twins this spring
I visit the grave of my mother who died
birthing me  my father remarried for love
alone could not raise a child he feared
just as I did when my first husband left
me with a two-year-old
after the school bus disappears
I sign in mock-maternal a cut-
out mother to a paper child
my canopic womb bleeds
the wound gives birth to silence
I ask to see her someone cradles
a doll baby in my arms the weight
nothing more than the universe
the face a portrait of peace
I will bury above my mother
tomorrow when my husband returns
he will watch for a signal I am ready
to continue life as usual he will be
at a loss will mistake my coldness
for mere grief



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