by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish



A week before, I bought my first

maternity gear at the Goodwill,

a brown empire-waist polyester

top with tiny pink flowers,

necessity overruling my puritan sense of style.


You are a piece of tattered pink

lace clinging to a descansos

on a dirt road to nowhere. A

roadside in my mind. A place

we never were. A place you

might be now, alone.


Your father who left me a week

after, who stranded me alone in

Little Rock without you, drove us

to the hospital in my yellow ‘76

Super Beetle, yelled at the nurses

to find a wheelchair—


You are a shard of black glass

stuck in my heart. You are the silly

faces I make at other people’s babies

in restaurants and grocery stores.


Named for a song and after a

great-grandmother whose middle

name was a river. You felt like

a waterfall down my thigh, in

my chest. You felt like a stitch

in my side. It was your first

and only cry.


You are the yellow wing

on a dark bird that soars

toward the sun. I lose you

to spots in my eyes.


Originally published in This Land: Spring 2015.