New Poem : Midwinter Birth

Midwinter Birth
Winter is heavy this year.
The snow has backed up into drifts
that swallow the trees, leaving only their
tips exposed, pointing like fingers to the stars.

The man who taught me how to snap
the neck of a baby rabbit is doubled over.

He vomits gingerbread onto the floorboards,
in front of the fire. The dog chows down
the steaming piles, licks his chops.
Looks around for more.

I am spread-eagled on a soft coat
that I never wear. Bought last time
we went to town – three years ago.

You make your entrance so quickly
that I have hardly time to scream.

Your face is a little fat blueberry.

I hold your head the way the book told
me to, while your father cuts the umbilical
cord, with the knife he forged in spring
just for this occasion.

You have a soft crown of dark hair,
skin soft as honeysuckle petals.

Your father places the placenta on
a chopping board, separates it into pieces.
We will put some on ice, save it for next spring,
but tonight we will stew a portion of the knotted
bundle of flesh, my flesh, our flesh.

The air is bittersweet – iron and lavender.
Outside the wolves sing. I wonder if it’s a song
of welcome for you, or if they found the elk calf,
that was dying by its mother’s feet.

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