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.
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)