Your sister lost her fetus.
And no one else we knew was getting pregnant.
Throw in all of the progesterone, fertility drugs,
shot after shot,
no wonder hope was faint and trending fainter still.
And suddenly, there’s this wand
rolling up and down your stomach making magic,
this dark shape on a screen –
we couldn’t take out eyes off it –
Autumn in Providence indeed.
And then a cousin of mine needed a laparotomy.
So we’d seen the body at its best and at its worst.
Like the cannula inserted into a close friend
while an embryo made the most of your insides,
delighted in its own senses.
More tests, and then the heartbeat of you,
the heartbeat of the child, intermingled yet separate.
A friend was trying tuboplasty.
And there we were, counting those beats,
marveling at science while crossing fingers.
The months stretched long,
(an aunt died of cancer in the interim)
but the end was as quick as the breaths between your screams -
nurses, doctors, in blue masks, white robes,
dipping skin-toned gloves into blood and muck,
scissors out of nowhere snipping the umbilical cord,
and then a cry from the pain of light and space –
the child – coaxed into its new life with a slap
on the back and much gentle rocking.
I remember how even those who couldn’t have children
came to see ours.
They set aside their own bad news
for tiny wriggly toes and a wisp of hair on pink bald head.
I was amazed by how a newborn can bring spirit
to a middle-aged woman doing nothing more than staring through glass.
There were no more miscarriages in the extended family after that.
No more debilitating conditions for two years or more.
The inevitable was still the inevitable.
But, for a time, it found an infant to rally around.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon.