Little one, you fringe my dreams
with lanugo, one minute: fetus; the next:
vernix of red flame. It doesn’t scorch
my arms to cradle your fire and ice.
When all my faith has fled—instead of rope,
a linkage of snakes—I want to be filled
with your almost-ness, your on-the-cusp
-ness, potential gestating in this weak
house of skin. Your glaciers pout the book
the book the book. But I’m a womb
of worry. What are we but the leavings
of our mothers? How do we harvest
our fathers’ fallow? After hours of labor,
after sufficient pain to render us gasping
and slick, will a swaddle release the sterile
dust, seed fields richly, enflower?
Milkmouth, warm flesh of poems I need
to write, I apologize in advance for the wounds.
All my words call for bandages.
Dayna Patterson is the author of Titania in Yellow (Porkbelly Press, 2019) and If Mother Braids a Waterfall (Signature Books, 2020). Her creative work has appeared recently in POETRY, AGNI, and Passages North, among others. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Psaltery & Lyre and a co-editor of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. daynapatterson.com
Artwork: Laura Makabresku