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Camille Claudel Does Not Want to See the Baby

ISSUE:  Winter 2006

I have been humbled, this hunching
to the piecemeal stitches of a skull
not passing through but rising
from my own seam.
What shocks—the wet moss
of black hair.
I can hear the nursemaid
hushing a mouth that rings out.
     Noise is swept to the corners;
the broom propped by the door.
Night is a dark cherry
     pressed by the throat of Day.
I remind myself that I did not want
to be a mother
          (like my mother),
but how stubborn that small moment
of seeing—the baby, balling up,
knowing the world’s keen eye
is upon him—knees springing
to his blotched chest,
          feet folded in prayer.


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