When her legs struck out shuddering
like fat lightning bolts, or my breasts turned
to stones within stones on my chest
and I couldn’t tell hindmilk from foremilk,
I distrusted my collapsed tent of gut.
When she wouldn’t sleep and so no one would
sleep, or vomit flew like a fist on the end
of a long, gloved arm from her throat, it made me
a child who wanted the answer and now. I was the why,
why, why, months before she could mutter
my name. I knew better, but still. On the phone,
in the fever, in the scuffed doctor’s office
with my list and all I’d forgotten to write
there, in the rectangular glow of my phone
in the long, parsed night, I acted like someone
could tell me. I acted like I wanted to know.
Elizabeth Langemak lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.