POEM ON A BIRTHDAY

MILLIE TULLIS

 
 

It’s my mother’s dead husband’s birthday
he is something like my stepfather
 
he died eight years before
my first features formed
 
but in Mormon doctrine
he is the more real father
 
the one sealed to my mother
he paces heaven flat waiting for us
 
every year, mom has us set balloons loose
into the sky patch behind our roof
 
and we sing happy birthday to
nothing.
 
My friend may have the baby today
and I have never seen a birth
 
I hope she asks me to stay in the room
to watch her secret mouth split
 
turn what’s hidden inside out
the big reveal
 
between her legs
the way my body would look
 
if I would let it
then I would know just how much
 
I do not know my own pink box–
labia perpetually bloated on one side
 
the pink hood that lifts to show
a pulsing peach button
 
how would my pieces crack open and laugh?
Mother says they were made for it
 
I want to see baby skin change from the alien
eggplant to the human blush
 
all because of the way we breathe on him
how long can he hold his howl in?
 
after we force him into the room
we’ve lined with needy breath
 
once my dog had puppies and Mother let us stay home
from school to watch the dog cry
 
and chew her babies out of blood bags
it was my sister’s birthday
 
that morning she turned twelve
my brother had prayed every night for a week
 
that the puppies would come
on her day Mother used the dog’s crying to give the gift
 
of a sunday school lesson. Isn’t it a miracle, seeing prayers
answered, seeing God’s purple hand covered
 
in woman’s
bloody offering

 
 

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