A Faraway Shore

Today we hear the heartbeat!
Our neighbor has agreed to watch
the kids and so,
like eager spermatozoon
we fight our way up Canal.
I’m squeezing my wife’s hand
the whole ride up
and even tighter now under these
fluorescents.
Our braided knuckles tight, translucent
as her body clenches –
is this butcher’s paper?
Labels printed, samples taken,
sterilized gloves on and off,
so much plastic for one
small visit.

The doctor joins us with
her soft, tired eyes and
her bright squeaky sneakers.
Excited?
She feigns as she casts the beam
with her big plastic wand,
searching through the grainy darkness
of my wife’s tense belly.
silence
silence
too much silence –
There we go!
She’s found it.
Our shy, delicate yolk
nesting up against the pelvic bone,
just crouched there
in the dark,
tiny and alone,
her story being written
without my opinion,
in the prehistoric script
woven through our
helix.

And there –
at fragile sac’s center
a pale, pulsing light.
The heartbeat.
Soft, attenuated,
so missable –
like a faint signal from a distant
planet waving across the
galaxy.

The pulse is too slow –
the doctor mutters
her sneakers squeaks as she
shifts her weight,
squinting at the screen
as if she’s reading the menu
at a drive-through window
in the pouring
rain.

Two days later,
a scream
commotion,
slow motion.
My wife gave birth to that
little yolk in the shower.
And not knowing what to do,
I gathered it up
and flushed it away
as you would a bug
in your house
you were too afraid
to catch and
release.

As I held my sobbing girl
and closed my eyes
all I could see
all I can still see
all I can’t stop seeing
is that gentle pulsing light,
that delicate heartbeat
fading in and
out
and in
and out again
a lighthouse beam
reaching out to us
through the wind and storm
from a faraway shore –
a safe harbor
we’ll never
reach.