Scoundrel Time

dead radio apostle

Heels in stirrups,
knees pitched
above my hips,
I am blinded
by every
measured breath
required before
each push—
a cold, unnatural

I was taught to focus
on something in the room,
to distract from
the hell-rigged pain
knifing me
from the inside.

I study the 9
on the clock,
its spine curved inward,
quiet as a stillborn,
as the doctor waits at
the mouth of me.

Womb knuckled
by spark & spasm,
I hold the nurses’ faces—
a gallery of stunned
amazement—their wet eyes
& ruptured mouths.
Then push.

A red howl tongues
the air. The doctor grips
a handful of black hair.

An inch. An inch.
An inch. Three feet.

The nurses tilt their bodies
in unison, a chorus
of gathered weight.
Wrenched fists
yanking loose
the skull that splits me.

I have ridden the Lord
into salvation,
my mother shrieks,
past my pelvis.

Deliver me O, Lord
from the blood
of the lamb!
she sings
as her bad brain
enters the room.

The nurses lock hands
around her waist
& pull. A blackbird
on the window’s ledge
pecks the flesh
of a rotted peach.

Lord, I have siphoned
the devil from
my childrens mouths,
I have throned their unholy
bodies in shit!

I push again, beyond
the thickening fog of voices,
delivering my mother
into an unrelenting light.
The nurses drag her
to the cleaning station.
Her voice pools
at their feet, wavering
in lost pitch.

They wipe down
her shrinking body,
suction pearls of mucous
from her nose & throat.

She writhes on the table,
cold and un-named.
Then lessens. Smaller
& smaller still,
until her body
is swaddled
in a washcloth
& placed in my hands.

She blinks me
into focus & the room
is bewitched,
a museum of blood
& silence.

I rock her in my palm—
the last blue pill
in the bottle—then
shove her into
the red nest
of my missing tooth.

I sing a song to the
emptied room,
I rise
six feet above my bed.