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When first you spoke you spoke to your mother but in secret
inside of a whisper of piss and
hormones. You said through that elongated pitch of uterus,
I am the child you are with.
She hushed her heart to hear
and when it beat again it beat doubly
loud with pounding capable enough for two.

There was no angelic heraldry, no
Christian name decreed,
no oracle, no promise, no calling.
If Gabriel was sent
he was sent with a diminished script: just a plus
sign at the end of a stick. Vacant:
your name, your gender, your temperament all
of which were answered
She’s pregnant.

But for that plus I doubted.
But for that plus I
doubted whether
you existed anywhere but at the jointed breaths which
coupled pauses in between proposed names—perched
like a watchful spirit in constant peril.
An embryo. A fetus poised
like some unresolved sum that folds itself
into similitudes of commas clinging to the precipice
of speech—hanging
on each ill-formed name.

It takes a prophet to make a good name; how
else does one augur a child, pick through their interstitial tissues
with forceps, and read the arrangement of gallbladder and bowels
to eek out a suitable designation?
What ignorance, what frailty, what insults will we stain you with?

My mind is epinephrine: gravid with mitotic fears
that grow, divide and multiply in pathogenic blooms. I
fret that moment when the obstetrician
drags you from the birth canal into my fool
uncertainty: you—untouched,
infant pure,
but they’ll ask me for a name as the afterbirth bloodies
the floor and the doctors turn
expecting me to make your + into an equals.
That’s where life begins.
That’s where life begins in fallible, fumbling, sullied hands
and the appointment of labels.

First published in the April/May issue of Lucid Rhythms (2010)