poet/artist Heather Fowler of southern California

Pregnancy: Boy Child, A Sestina
by Heather Fowler

When you first imagine you having a child,
you picture him perfect, upside down, hanging
from playground bars or clenching a ribbed seashell
at warm beaches; you picture warning him not to slip
and fall on wet tiles and yourself retrieving countless damp towels left
in community-center pool lockers, inside plastic baggies, inside

locker rooms that smell and taste like bleach, or the inside
of stagnant bottles or the bottoms of feet. This child,
you think, will be loved, will never be lonely or left,
will never go hungry, and never be hanging
with tough kids on bad corners. He’ll slip
the shell of success like a born diver, break the shell

of his birth class like a poker to glass ceilings, and you’ll shell
out so much dough to make this real, your selfish, inside
self will wonder how, for someone so small, you let slip
your need for cosmetics, desirability, and sterling–how the child
himself could become a lone compulsive thought, swimming in utero, hanging
would-be dreams from your mental windows like banners or ads left

atop every bureau and stage, like delicate heirlooms left
in groping palms that hold the idea of him like walnut shells
hold clenched meats: hidden, under wraps–while you busy yourself hanging,
your thoughts of his future like tapestries or beatific still-lifes inside
the only vacant room in your head, which is your own future–hoping this child
will live to your ideals, reflecting as he kicks and you stand in your slip

in the bathroom, huge-bellied and bulging, that the same slip
stretched up around nude thighs, exposing and hiked on the left
must tickle the place where his head pushes into your side, that this child
you have yet to bear, with your abdomen thin yet strong as a grape-skin shell,
can feel you just as you feel him, but will only be inside
you a while longer, the cord between soon hanging

in cool air, where placenta and afterbirth will follow, hanging
until cut, when your nipples will become the piece of you to slip
into his mouth to preserve the bond, to fight the feeling inside
that, alone, bereft in stretched skin and bones, you have been left
or abandoned like a hermit crab’s out-moded house, a forlorn shell
vacated with his growth–but the child, you recall with relief, the child

is not yet out, is now just a hanging star of possibility on the crib mobile’s left
horizon, a being in your body who has yet to slip the womb’s hot shell–
a mystery inside you, awaiting: this saint, this progeny, this long dream, your child.

* * * * *

(c) 2008 Heather Fowler
all rights reserved
used by permission


For more Heather Fowler, please visit her website: http://www.heatherfowlerwrites.com

You may also contact her on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/fowlerhm.

And don’t forget to check out her audio page at http://www.myspace.com/fowlerhmaudio.