Her heartbeat audible
like a train on a track
through the fetal monitor,
syncopated, da da´, da da´,
the first rhythm, inexorably
like a 19th century engine,
to reveal her millennial variation,
the matchless repatterning
of DNA into a code of her own.
Love sharpens the cells
in those already born,
the wavery perimeter of the rose
becomes acute to the eye, the breeze
is laden with suddenly knowable spores.
Each small leaf is endowed with a precise shape
which you must endear, hold to your chest,
press against your skeleton to protect.
Meanwhile the labor of birth
by us, the animals, continues —
while the invisible lacy awareness of the angels
rises from our heads and looks around
and I stream back in
from the vivid outward world,
the rose, the leaf, the unseeable breeze
all part of what lifts the one emerging
onto the white sheet
She was often waving
from across the college courtyard
by herself, smiling,
her arm like a gull on a shoreline,
her skin like powdered sand
and eyes squinting a little under the steady sun.
She didn’t call out. Silence swept over the sky
and an acrid taste
like mango burned on my tongue.
then turned away, the light
cutting through her cotton dress.
Looking back, I can see the shimmering brown hull
of the boat waiting offshore […]
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Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) is the author of the poetry book The Transparent Body (Wesleyan University Press) and the chapbook Anorexia (Five Fingers Poetry). Her poems have appeared in more than 60 anthologies and periodicals, including The Kenyon Review, Tikkun, Ploughshares, Lilith, Brilliant Corners, Field, and City Lights Review. She won creative writing grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and others. Lisa is also a jazz and neo-soul singer-songwriter-poet. Her sixth album, I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined, will be out in January 2018 on the Jazzed Media label.