By Josephine Yu
Heft up the door of the storage unit
where you sequestered the baby
things after the second miscarriage.
Board books, plush animals, clothes
sorted in file boxes
like evidence in a cold case. Kneel there
on the concrete floor. Choose a gift to
send her—act of penance
for the low sob that groaned
from your chest like the cry
of some prehistoric flightless bird.
Penance for the bad math that clacks
its abacus beads: one infant plus
one infant equals zero infants.
Fold footie pajamas in tissue,
as if relayering an onion. Scrape
curling ribbon with a scissor blade
until grief sloughs off
like charred skin debrided. This,
this is your feat of strength,
a woman lifting a car
off a toddler.
That terrified. That furious.
Josephine Yu is the author of Prayer Book of the Anxious (Elixir Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cincinnati Review, TriQuarterly, Best New Poets 2008, Welcome to the Neighborhood: An Anthology of American Coexistence, and other journals and anthologies. She is a faculty member at Keiser University and a hospice volunteer.
Originally appeared in NOR 27.