Six times a week
I push your sister’s stroller
past a dead cat
at the base of the young
dogwood between Mac & Mac
Electric and Vacationland RV.
I remember to look away,
across the street at the vacant
building for lease
It says to call Corky Boozé.
I pretend it says call Corky Booze
I prefer the fall of sound,
how booze slows everything.
How sometimes a heart just stops.
The decay of the body terrifies me,
the bugs in the fur
the rotted out eyes,
just as the growing of one does,
those awful pictures Babycenter.com emails me:
transparent skin, bulging eyes.
I’ve seen you fuzzy and grey
on the screen, seen you
raise your silent arms,
but I have yet to hear the wild rush
of your heart. We are all meat
waiting to rot. You are a boy
building a body inside my body.
At checkout my son is all smiles.
The grocery clerk asks my baby’s name.
“Porter”, I say
“Boy or girl”, she asks
“My daughter’s name was Porter.”
Because I can’t swallow the was,
I say, “I’ve never met a girl named that before.”
The clerk’s hair is black. Her eyes are wet.
Her Porter is dead.
Mine is wearing grey fleece
and squirming in the cart.
There is nothing between us
but a sack of hard, green pears.
Rachel Mehl lives in Bellingham, WA where she chairs the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. She has an MFA from University of Oregon and has published widely, most recently in Crab Creek Review.