- Carrying a Baby, and: Desert Duende
Carrying a Baby
On an airplane, Lucy ate her cheese baby, and in this my favorite episode before she squirrels her cheeks with it, she burps the hulking cheese, slick and stinking in a blanket. I’m carrying loads of baby wannabes like unpopped caviar strung to my cauliflower ovaries, wondering at which point I’ll need to stop and reconsider this choice burden, at which exit I’ll actually let go. An Amish woman on the train from Albuquerque to Chicago, traveling with kin to a convention, bundled a perfect-painted baby doll, honey-colored eyelashes and baby hair curled around her porcelain face. At nightfall, she rocked and sang her to sleep, like Amish girls who wrap rags around logs, pretending they’re dolls. Only this one had a face, perhaps to prove something to the eyes of God. Beneath the woman’s white bonnet, her drape-heavy black dress, her smell of sweat, body odor thick as stockings in the dank coach car, she carried an ache, ripping at the crisp edges. [End Page 81]
loaded she says. loaded. but locked. she doesn’t wonder at the cage. the click. the barrel. stock. stop. unhinge. she is spark-exhausted. she barricades. mines the spine. heart. cacti. bleeds. no one explains when. to die. no one has to. nature. of thirst. instinct. blinking back extinction. near the brink. always. the brick. the oven. near loaded. not shot. the rains meant to come. she wanders. pecking livers. mouthwashing dust. speckling silt. end trails. rattles. bullhorns. bullets. bullshit. unloaded. sand-skirts. she kicks herself. bricks come. later. and fast. she never held a. gun. she glistens. metal sun-spit. cacti rungs. she tugs. triggers. ignites. [End Page 82]
Jennifer Givhan’s poetry and fiction have appeared in more than forty journals, including Contrary, the Los Angeles Review, and Crab Creek Review. She was a Venice Quebodeaux Pathways Prize finalist for her poetry collection Red Sun Mother.