Then I Sleep the Sleep of the Day of the Dead Child

In what felt like impossibility, I opened my red ham hands,
meat embrace to that new world,
and scooped out a space for you to dwell.

You dwelled and dwelled and bigged me up,
then turned your back away from mine, turned your spine,
went cold and still.

So it was a space and a nighttime. Void.
Except the writing that started coming straight at my eye.
I should have known from that fact alone.

Might I write this lightened my step?
Might I also point out how I am flipped on my belly,
and writing now?

I might, but nothing of that would light up
the place on the map of that new world
where my extremities are still red and numb

for the whistling ghost of you still to come,
how you will meet me silent and eyes sealed and without tone,
how you will not drink the milk I will pour for you,

my own golden milk,
or how I will have to take some needle to the air
and try to sew up this space into a pocket,

a balloon, a rag-doll mouth stitched
to pat you in and keep you,
my floating little talisman, my not-quite son.

You were going to love me best.
I was going to love you best.
Might I say I can no longer tell the night from my Day?

Arielle Greenberg is co-author of Home/Birth: A Poemic; author of My Kafka Century and Given; and co-editor of three anthologies, including Gurlesque. She lives in Maine and teaches in the Oregon State University-Cascades MFA, the Maine State Prison, and out of her home, and writes a column on contemporary poetics for the American Poetry Review.