I shall never escape this, there are two of you now.
The old meat still beats with persistence—
I’m here, I’m here, I’m here,
all flesh and sanguine and soul serving.
The other pays it no mind as it enlivens itself
like the fetus of a new heart, embryo
ripening beneath my right breast. Walnut sized
and black as dark matter,
yearning to spread me apart entirely. At night
its crackles jab and stab— little infant kicks
to a new mother’s womb. I never wanted it, this
fresh flutter of life conceived of my sin—
I did not summon you in, impoverished child
shrieking to nurse off me cell by cell
until the milk runs dry, your nursery is hell, and I
shriveled used douche left there in the bin.
I can only deliver you by delivering my end.
—Shawn Nacona Stroud