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Published: Fri Apr 15 2022
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
AGNI 95 Gender Sexuality Parenthood
—Disappearance—Nativity

                            I was a garden and you
my gardener. I was a house,
              you my lodger,

                            lodged beneath my heart.
My Heart, you were the fist that knocked
              and knocked and I would not answer.

                            You starved me down
until a glance could pass straight through me
              as I lay

                            on the obstetrician’s vinyl couch,
under a shroud
              that stank of Clorox.

                            They mined for you—
their probes slick with
              the scentless oils of technicians—

                            for whom I must
be opened, peeled back, forced
              to look. And I did, as I was told—

                            not relax—exactly—but give myself up
to your co-conspirators, who dug you
              out of the blankness of my flesh,

                            parted the dark waters and suddenly
you came forth
              a smudge of white against the ultrasound’s

                            blackness, you floated spectral and thickly
pale, a magnolia in a bowl,
              an elegant centerpiece. You had no heart,

                            were as minimal as a Mobius strip.
But you had style. Even your dying
              was oddly stylish, the way you resembled

                            more and more each day a comet,
the wan tail of you grew
              longer, more tenuous on the screen.

                            I saw you calmly
and with endearing gravity take a nose dive
              until the light blinked out and I was

                            no longer a house for an uninvited guest,
nor heaven for a gauzy constellation.
              The screen went dark and I came back

                            to myself. I was no longer a ghost’s ghost.
I was myself again. I was flesh. And living.  

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Lynn Emanuel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Nerve Of It: Poems New and Selected (Pitt Poetry Series, 2015), which received the Lenore Marshall Award from The Academy of American Poets. (updated 4/2022)

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