She tells us to breathe in metaphors,
we belly-wise tilted panters, for
asafecalmcomfortablebirth. Purple in,
ribbon out. Give the count a pulse, and then
quick it to life.
Ten: your toes, their tap, their taut, caught flow.
Nine: November to summer end and—slow,
slow. Eight: Our limbs, mirrored flex and bend,
locked (those four) in. O, unmade maiden,
I count your life
in kicks, in flutters, iliac. Red in, thread
out. “Still there?” there! “I'm here.” Here. “Not dead?”
Head! hard round and burrowing. And how
long will you be Echo in a cave, mouth
dark with un-?
words? Green in. And greening out. Safecalmcom-
fortable doesn't mean safe, calm, com-
fortable. These sounds are metaphors for
a birth with ten petaling toes. Flora
in, blue out. Lungs
that flex as strong as feet. Orange in, unpeeling
out. Eyes, opening, echo of a mouth in reeling
in the world.
I read as all poets do, as if to say, these are not my words, they're
Pause for the line break
Public domain now, each word a plumpdancer, belly tight with own importance
Again, excuse me, pause,
that metaphor was nice, at least.
You can't imagine the bright things it promised me when l lipped it by the mouth and—
My baby babbles
You have a poem, she's saying
Is like me, I am not like, is it like
Bending, its breath muzzy with dreaming how once it said
In our garden, where nothing blooms yet but the fizz of pollen and dirt, kiln warm, my baby makes her eyes, mouth, arms all o, as if to say, “I know this place. It is the place where every green and bird-like thing, like me, flaps its arms. Why have you never taken me here before?” How can she know that here is spring, and it’s only one day old, only and never more.
I must breathe in enough metaphors,
to learn—not to make you, of course.
To make up a God so I can know how much
I never made you. And what then? a crush
and split of cells? A metaphor? That pulse
of words that say by saying something else?
That breath begun in my lungs that out pours
with that first heart-locking yowl—in yours.
Miriam Allred lives with her husband, Eli, and her daughter, Iris in West Jordan, Utah. She is lucky enough to be able to inhabit many imaginary realms with them and to transcribe a few.