Winner of the 2013 AWP Intro Journals Project in Poetry, selected by Ben Grossberg
The light is relentless. There are no lampshades here.No dimmer switch. Night lives only in the socketsof windows. Nurses pop in and out like cuckooclocks. They unwrap us and refold us. Youin your swaddling and me in my bandages. Yes,
I am your mummy and this is morning, thisis afternoon, this is the long white nightwhen we are basted belly-up by the constantwhirring light. We are not ready for the darkyou and I, we are not ready for the cold.
We are hothouse bulbs in our brightincubator. In sleep you expand, my littleloaf, and I keep bleeding betweenthe feedings when the nurses flock like starchedwhite cabbage moths. They prop my bubble-
wrapped torso up with pillows, peel backsleep’s damp towel and roll you out. My milkis full of bees and danger, heady allergenssmuggled within tulips beside our bed. You twitch,little addict, rooting toward this contraband.
We are not ready for undigested air, for the vitalflare of gasoline or jasmine, for skygreased by all-night diners and plumesof cigarette butts stirred from roadsidegutters. I watch a patch of sky go blue
then black, I watch the tarred roof bruisebeneath the weight of pigeons. I am on a restricteddiet. You strain the straightjacket of your swaddle. [End Page 150] The nurse is merciless. She places you on my lap,pushes my wheelchair towards the door. Wards fly by
like pages in waiting room magazines.She parks us on the curb while your fathergets the car. Sun slaps shut my eyesand for a moment there is only the imprintyour new body makes. It re-creates the world. [End Page 151]
Erin Rodoni is a Bay Area native, poet, recovering nomad, and new mom. Her work has appeared in MahMag, Serving House, and multiple issues of San Diego Poetry Annual. She holds an mfa from San Diego State University.