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by Marianne S. Johnson

A pregnant woman's poem to the child she carries
plays like Mozart in my head, its perfect verse
is the opera of a thrumming heartbeat,
a music resonant in my vacant womb
my theater now closed, the players sent home,
                                            doors chained.

Later, at night, I draw him close, frantic to pull life
from him and fill the halls a final time,
await the hushed rapture of the overture rising,
the repeating aria beating again in my veins
growing to a crescendo in my belly,
                                            iambic refrains.

But he looks on me as a mad woman, the hour late,
my senses gone from me, my want inconsolable.
He gives in, pushes in with tenderness
pretending that we will conceive, a white lie,
we deceive ourselves in the dark with our needs
                                            undo the chains

release, free them, the children we did not have
the babies not conceived, the extra hands
that would have clutched our sleeves
we lie in our lovemaking until we are spent
tenor, soprano, encore, until I weep,
                                            still, again.

First published: Cradle Songs: An Anthology of Poetry on Motherhood (Quill and Parchment Press)
Winner of the 2013 International Book Award 2013

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