by Michael Levan

The woman returns to bed on two weak legs, / and if there was a God, it might have been / otherwise. She might be eating cereal, a bowl full / of ripe strawberries and contemplating the curve / of her belly so like the spoon upturned on the tray / the man has set before her. It might have been / next to the napkin, the three small buds the girl plucked / from the roses out front, blossomed now for the third time / this year. Otherwise, she might have been walking / the girl around the block, this girl who’d make / to leap from the stroller every time there was a dog to pet. / She’d watch her child laugh and smile, get distracted / by another dog, a butterfly, the roar of a motorcycle revving. / In other words, the woman would be doing the work / she loves. She would nap, and the man would come lie / next to her, put a hand on the heart just beneath / her heart. She would wake and pat his hand, fall back / into an entire world of otherwise where her family was / now five and celebrating over dinner he had made at her request. / Or it might have been too late for a nap, so she’d paint / the walls of the nursery-to-be something neutral, something / calming to ease away the small worries she’d be carrying too. / It’d be so many days like this joyful waiting / and so many others waiting for joy to arrive. / But on this day of more ineffective medications, / of more calls for Momma! she can’t let in, / of more prayers gone unanswered, she knows / it is otherwise.

                                                                                    after Jane Kenyon

Michael Levan has work in recent or forthcoming issues of Heavy Feather ReviewLost BalloonLaurel Review, and The Rupture. He is an Associate Professor of English and edits and writes reviews for American Microreviews and Interviews. He lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with his wife, Molly, and their three children, Atticus, Dahlia, and Odette.