Sonogram at seven
weeks, five days.
The young father sits against the corner
with her folded
jeans, purple Nikes, eyeglasses.
She describes the bleeding, its amount, colors,
and cramps. The room is darkened, door closed,
the screen glows,
never just black and white,
but eighty eight shades of gray melting into
codes of little life.
The doctor teaches "That's the uterine souffle,"
increased blood flow to her womb,
that sound of oceans jostling up against
But like craning their heads over the crowd
they all listen
for a beat they've never met,
so how will they know? How will they know?
Finally it shuffles into sound in paper slippers,
double fast watch tick.
No one speaks
but this insistent scrape like a tiny branch
The diagnosis: threatened spontaneous abortion.
will be a number of rules: no smoking in the house,
frequent elevation of
the feet, more drinking of water,
absolutely no coital activity. The nurse
slyly in his direction: "That means no sexual intercourse."
The young father looks down at his crotch
like a lap of sheepish weapon,
stupid lusty flesh
that could pierce magic that seems to hold it all together,
what do they call it, a bag of waters? He sees the waters
on the floor with all his plans and promises,
clumsily spilled, miscarried,
misplaced, wrong. He sees
his wife before him, kneeling to the puddle,
spreading her fingers, empty. He sees doors
opening and closing to him, backs
© 1997 Jessica Manke
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do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves."