WHEN YOU WERE NEW AND I
JUST TURNED TWENTY
Rivers pulled up
in front of the hospital
in her boyfriend’s Thunderbird,
an empty shot glass wedged between
the bucket seats.
I climbed in gingerly -- stitches
pinching, you in my arms.
“Everything’s cool,” she said,
nodding at groceries in a wicker
laundry basket on the back seat.
“Cool,” I said.
And we motored past tornado
rubble to my place where things
were same as the night my water broke.
Rivers unloaded baby bottles,
Karo, Carnation for formula
I made on the hot plate. You
tolerated her awkward arms
while I took a clean piece of
old white eyelet curtain
and a pillow to fashion the basket
into a bassinet and put you down.
Rivers had to split.
So for the first time it was you and me,
evening coming on,
rats coming out.
I set your basket on the only chair,
drew it close to my bed, and
kept the light on all night long.
First published in Hubbub.