Waiting for labor to begin.


The hours of intake, paperwork, bloodwork, nurses and midwife and doctor in and out.


Questions asked, answers recorded, medications tallied.


My body readied:

veins pinched,

hand pierced,

saline lock inserted.

Cervix checked, measured, discussed.

Ripener placed.

Contractions monitored, green line spooled across a slowly ticking black screen.


I marked time with vitals:

the crinkle of the blood pressure cuff, the beep of the thermometer.


Faced with a whole night of this, seconds magnified to hours, minutes stretched long and dark and gaping.



my body,

my labor,

my baby, life, future

—taken from me.


Absolute defeat.








for a chance at new life




Still, the midwife tells me not to track

body temperature,


changes in the cervix,

not to look for patterns where they can’t be found.


My only course of action taken from me,

another defeat.


Three cycles. She ticks off:




Assuming February, optimistic that this will be the month I bleed. But I am still waiting.


Time opens its dark maw.

Months as years.

I mark its passing in the drops of milk I find on each nursing pad,

hoping for one less tomorrow,

hoping for blood in my underwear instead.


I hold on to April.

Clutched in this dark winter, I wait for spring.


© Burning Eye


And Still They Weep

My breasts are stones.

I lie in the bath and they
do not move,
do not give way gently, flattening out,
nipples soft puddles

They are all stiff, tender bruise.

They press heavy into my armpits
into my soft belly
as if trying to take the place of what was there

I ache.
I cannot even lift a shirt from the laundry.
I clench fistfuls of socks,
crumple forward

Tiny drops bead on my nipples
fall like tears
My life—
all I was meant to give—
slides down my belly
drips onto the floor.

I thought they would give me medication to dry up my milk
to spare me this

But there is no magic prescription.
Just motrin
and ice
and binding
and cabbage leaves.

I pull them from the head, freeze them.
They cup my breasts,
press the pattern of ribs and veins into my flesh,
slowly cook from my heat

I reek of cabbage
and for days
I cannot wash the smell out of my bras.

Between cabbage applications
we tie bags of frozen peas to my breasts

I wrap my arms around them
embrace them
invite the coldness deeper

Each day the swelling lessens,
and the icing, and binding, and cabbage leaves.
Stone melts back to flesh.
But still my nipples burn in turns,
a searing, scraping,
a sharp intake of breath,
clenched hands.

And still they weep.

© Burning Eye