Michele LeavittWhat’s left of the premature baby
is not the feathery ash
at the tip of a cigarette. What’s left
are slivers of bone poking
from countless white specks. A label
on a plastic bag, in a banker’s box,
in a metal closet in the hospital morgue.
Before the box, a scorching blaze.
Before that, diminutive flesh. Before that,
a few gauzy breaths outside
an intoxicated womb. No one comes for
the ashes, and the label turns
like a shy child toward the back
of the box, hiding the number
assigned by the hospital, the date
of death, the mother’s name.
The ashes settle toward fusion
like any memory that can’t be
scorched away. Where is the mother?
Caught in the vise
of her present tense,
caught like gravity, which never
turns from its task,
waiting for a gentle
hand to surface from the conflagration,
to rearrange her mistakes,
to sort her burnt parts, one from another. Read more »