I will do the nursing. The suckling and swallowing. He will do the singing. The calling and crooning. We will both do the raising. Hatchling to nestling. Who will do the plucking?
I will do the bathing, the preening and pruning. Tearing and chewing and brittle nails between my teeth. He will do the dusting. Hoovering dead skin out of the nest.
We will both do the testing, the needles and screenings. We will both ask the questions. We will both submit. Who will do the plucking?
I’ll hold her arms and he’ll hold her legs. We will farm out the nursing. We will abandon the waiting. We will brood over weekends. We will groom in the dark.
When the cancer comes who will do the plucking? Tufts of fuzz. Downy peach. Molting daughter. Who will do the plucking?
The Barren Wife Gives Birth to a Girl
Press new pennies between her teeth until they shine with sour milk. Letter her name across the cake. Lick every piece but hers. Sever paper girl chains cut from newsprint with her name in every headline. Slaughter the stork before he can croon with credit undeserved.
Drown the dolls so their skin puckers a rumpled linen no one wants to wear. Witness her lungs inflate in that dress. Muzzle anything she says unless she is saying yes. Shake her hard enough and she will rattle, her hollow filled with rice.
Stain everything she ever loved, even you, with burnished pawns and borrowed baby shoes. Snap all the pictures she can stand and some she can’t. Arm the origami heart brigade. Bazooka any bastard who tries to bitch about the afterlife.
Blast broken bones until the bright shriek of birth rubs clean the creases of her lips. Fold opposite ends until they meet to make a diamond that hides inside itself. Stand back. Marvel at all you’ve done.