Jul/Aug 2003 Poetry

Two Poems

by T.E. Ballard



In the moment before, a screen
held your flesh, and you were nothing
except gray, fading images, and the intern
checked organs like a grocery list: lung,
heart, liver. I did not understand the meaning of seed,
how a thin line of cord could connect or destroy.
You were a slight shudder below a rib,
the soft shape of leg, a sudden kick.
The buzz of a machine became your name
until, with a finger, this woman
drew two lines and said this
is where a penis would be,
you will see the flat land,
the black of ovary. She named you girl,
marked the small box with a pen.


Dead Man's Float

This is the art of shifting your body
over a plain of particles, slowly.
Of being less than a kiss or a touch,
of hearing the call of others as if you
were dead and somehow granted
this moment from under the world.
This is the soft hum of your mother's
voice, shift of the ice in a pitcher
of drinks. You do not exist and have
stumbled on this truth that it does
not matter. Your parents would
continue to sit on a beach, watching
each other or dreaming of a child not
yet conceived, and this is why you sink
and then rise like a fly in her glass.


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