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For My Ancestor Who Had Her First Baby Alone on the Floor

By Carolyn Sperry

I’m sorry I don’t know more about you—

I only heard some basic facts—

but I can make it up.

Maybe when you were preparing for your wedding

only the old neighbor lady was happy,

saying oh sweetheart, this happens.  

God bless you.   

as she altered an old wedding dress

gamely, winking with pins in her mouth,  

your mother standing there like a storm on two legs, 

tight lipped around her howling tunnel of rage

because the whole town would know

you thought love might come from a touch, or a uniform, 

or the smell of cologne. 

At the wedding I wonder if his mother glared at you too, in her black dress.

And maybe he looked scared—was he braver in combat?

What I do know: 

Your husband disappeared, no note, no notice.

And when the pain became unbearable you were alone—

in the kitchen, you grasped your daughter’s slippery head 

and shoulders to pull her out of your body.

She was born en caul, in a veil.

I know that you mopped your own blood off the floor,

because there was no one else to do it.


Carolyn Sperry is a freelance writer based in Rochester, NY. She has published articles in news outlets across the United States and is a winner of the Gotham Writers Stories Everywhere competition. Her poetry has appeared in As It Ought To Be and Carmina


Poetry, The River

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