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