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Audio: Read by the author.


Not a cracking of bones,
how the pelvis can snap
when the head 
then shoulders break loose, 

but worn threadbare,
waves against weathered 
bone every five to eight
minutes (mark it down)
no food, no sleep, only
vomit and water and strong hands
through my hair and the dog
who devoured a whole chocolate cake
(a fact your father kept
secret, for fear the dog might die). 

Fourth night, dark room,
your father’s face
a moon above us,
time slips then I hear 
grab your baby
and I don’t think how? or 
in what way should I grab him?
because there is no thought
at the sill of life or death,
only urge—I reach down
and sling you onto my chest
like a fish, bruised and wet,
head in the shape of
what you’ve come through—

the force of contraction
wasn’t easy for me or you. 

But who cares for ease and what isn’t
shaped by the hard bones of passage?
To love you I had to hold you,
blue fish, true light
and to hold you I had to break open. 



Katharine Blake is a writer and adjunct professor at Vermont Law School. Her JD is from Stanford Law, and her first book, The Uninnocent, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.



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