I’m leaned back on the table, the nurse strapping
a band around my bicep, when she says,
So, your son must be thirteen by now. No, I say
he’s dead, which isn’t how I mean to say it.
Oh! she says, your chart. Yes, I say. His birth,
the year. And now she feels bad. I’m sorry, she says,
I’m so sorry. It’s OK, I tell her, but the reading is too high,
the pressure. We’ll try and do it again, she says.
Again. Again. The times I step back into the story,
and in this story my son is still living inside
me, he’s aquatic. I am the fish bowl and he is
the fish. I imagine his bones, his lungs, the small
perfect heart. And also, his hands, his feet.
A body growing inside another body. So precise.
And then he’s on the outside and it doesn’t work:
The air. Gravity. I want to apologize. He can’t breathe
right, he keeps convulsing, the electric
surge ticking his head to the left, the left, his
lip curled in disgust, but no, he looks more afraid—
some terror coming towards him. Not blue, not blue,
I tell myself the times it happens and he isn’t.
The doctor says, the bad kind of blue is cobalt, smurf blue.
Dusky is not the worst kind. But how does she know
on a baby this shade of brown? Does she?
I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I tell him in the hospital again
but he can’t hear me because the sedative and the new doctor
is asking me can a student insert a long needle
into his spinal column, would that be OK?
I look out the window and there’s plants, a garden.
Our nurse comes in, says, There’s another garden
on the roof. You can go look. Just don’t jump off.
The story is a circle that repeats, a round,
the voices overlapping. He’s in my arms again
my baby, my baby, I am singing to him.
I kiss his cheek, his hair. And now he’s not thirteen.
He’s not anything. The nurse has left and I’m alone.
On the ceiling is a lake, a field of flowers.
Let’s try this again, I say to no one. Can you see me?
I’m still here. I’m lying on the table, looking up.
—from Rattle #72, Summer 2021
Danusha Laméris: “I write because I am trying to get closer and closer to the marrow of it, whatever the It might be. I write to try and find order in chaos. And sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I do.” (web)