I was trying to type encyclopedia but kept typing envy
when I got to the part where my son
sprawled on the bed, asking what’s a placenta?
So we went to the envy envy encyclopedia,
so helpfully literal, so un-open to interpretation.
I remembered my own, or his, sliding out
numbly, how a nurse caught it in a bowl
and was going to take it away, but I strained
to sit up, to look. Building a placenta is hard work
the body does without the mind—temporary organ,
bound by the scope of its own necessity.
It was yucky, I tell my son, sticking out my tongue.
How big? he asks, and I say it was like a black brain—
an anti-brain, lumpy pillow with a white
painless, painless, that predictable end.
“After Birth” first appeared in Cimarron Review, Issue 164, Summer 2008.