When a Friend Writes of her Pregnancy

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.

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