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The Gift

ISSUE:  Summer 1979
Because of your age, your stiffening body,
they make X-rays of the child
at eight months. It is male
with fine silk hairs. Against your stretched
translucent skin, they hear his raspy breath,
the heartbeat. I have no child
but have placed the cat purring
against my stomach in the dark.
I imagine the insistent paw of a child’s kick.
Curled around that motion, I sleep,
concave, firm as a boy.

I am making your child
a horse of pine and oak, a mane
from my braided hair. With the finest tools
I perfect the hollow wood,
the tiny saddle sewn from calf.
Nights I hear rocking in the deep part
of the house. You cannot sleep
for that moving in the womb’s heart.
Already the baby tries to cry,
hums as he rocks, rides
back and forth in the dark.


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