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Flat Across the Belly

Susan Stenson


She runs the bath, steps out
of the housecoat as the nipples rise
brown in that white room.

You are mostly legs,
arms on the floor
waiting, wriggling.

She reaches down, undoes each pin.
Knows the dangers, stepping
into the bath with you but

for convenience holds
you tight in the water,
flat across the belly,

runs the cloth in and out of the creases
the way the nurses at the Jubilee
showed her how.

You defecate and soon
the sweet loaf floats
beside her like a small tug.

She is young and you the first
child. The long nights. The cities.
Where is your father?

What? No, Darling,
we don't get to choose
what we carry.

She will not mean to let go.
She will not mean to sink
to her knees and weep.



Susan Stenson's works copyright © to the author.


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