Joseph, your new baby sister E is here. Safe and sound, born alive, still breathing these twelve days later. I wrote this poem for her, for you.
In the dark she looks like you.
Lips parted, mouth open
Tiny chin sunken.
Afraid, I lean closer,
Waiting for a breath,
Peering at swollen newborn eyelids.
They are cracked,
Seeing—what? -–in the dark.
My mother tells me of this vision as I go into labor:
An angel bringing her to me.
I am shaken.
I hang up the phone as quickly as I can and try to banish it from my mind,
Thinking only of my father battling Death,
His vivid dream
As you lay dying inside me.
She meant well, my mother.
She saw it as cheerful, and safe.
But I do not think of angels this way.
I say a swift prayer
cross my fingers
make a sign to ward off the evil eye
No, I do none of these things.
I do not see the world this way.
I only hold your mother’s hand.
She is my comfort.
Maybe it is Joseph, bringing her to us,
Your mother says,
Tears in both our eyes.
I shake my head slightly.
How would I know, if it were you?
I search for you in the shadows of your new sister’s eyes and mouth.
I hold her thin body close,
Lips against her forehead.
I never kissed you.
How would I know, if she were you?
© Burning Eye