Alexandra Kontes

 

Survivor                                                                                                                                      

He was conceived at knife-point,
and landed on the kitchen floor,
blue, and on the edge of disappearing,
sometime in the spring.
It could have been a Tuesday,
or maybe a Wednesday.

As could be expected,
the neighbors closed their windows
and turned off their porch lights
as his mother’s screams
punctuated
first the darkness,
then the light.
Somewhere, a dog barked,
and then was silent.

She could have placed him in a garbage bag
with the apple peels
and the Styrofoam meat trays,
and nonchalantly wheeled him to the curb
to await pick-up the next morning. 
Wrapping him in the old cotton sheet
and burying him discreetly
beneath the apple tree out back,
was another possibility. 
She wouldn’t be the first to do so,
and she certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Instead, she cleared the mucus from his nose and mouth,
and watched his fingers tremble like tiny grey spiders
as they changed from chalk-blue to pink.
She cut the umbilical cord with the scissors
that she had once used for daffodils,
and felt his chest rise and fall
as he took his first startled breaths.

His tongue on her breast
was a small, insistent moth,
discovering light.