Two Poems by Karen Steinmetz
Aimed where the blue cloak folds away,
revealing a white brow set in carmine,
gliding along stippled lines—It arrives.
You can ordain nothing, forbid nothing.
Your hands, folded, complete an oval, red
as the draped bed in the room behind you,
door ajar to one you cannot name.
You do not see God’s ardent bird.
Each time, a blazing angel hushes you.
(for my son)
Winter light pours in
over my inward face, my hand at rest,
enormity of my belly, sprigged with flannel buds.
It is three days past your due date.
Your father snaps the photo. What else to do?
Grown so big, I am disappearing.
Dolphin-slippery, you would wake me.
I placed your father’s hand, astonished,
over moving waters; showing off at somersaults,
you had our attention; we dwelled
on you as on a waxing moon.
Now, you curl nautilus-tight, shining.
A child slips in from a red brick building
over there, takes my colored pencils.
Waking, I don’t mind. I want the sea
he’s drawing, flying fish, monsters,
sea horses rocking through salt-spume,
sun not yet fixed in the right hand corner.
Beside the window, the little painting,
your father’s. I will take it with us — greens,
blues, ochre. Body seizing, I will slip
into its disappearing mountains, carded wool clouds,
imagine taking you there.
The midwife’s kind voice will fall away.
Now, the clock’s pendulum tocks, time stopped.
The elevator’s steel cable complains in the chute.
UPS trucks rumble from the depot down the street,
brown-wrapped packages stacked and ready.
We once made a whole. We are waiting
for you now, as if listening for snowfall.