Fetal Heartbeat

“like the wings of millions of monarchs returned” /

The doctor finds it: a heartbeat's rapid flutter,
like the wings of millions of monarchs returned
again for the winter to the mountains of Mexico,
branch after branch awhir and rustling with butterflies'

long migration and rest. They've traveled hundreds
of miles after breeding, these black-and-rust Valentines,
these milkweed-fed tiger lilies of the Gulf Stream,
folding and unfolding their wings' powdered hinges.

And beneath the rolled seam of my skirt, the heart
pulses of a child, almost a child, I wasn't sure I could carry,
a wild corded bit of skin, teeth, and fists, waiting,
waiting, starting to turn, not belonging to me, but mine.

I don't know how far it traveled, or from where. Oh,
I wanted it abstractly, imagined opening myself to life
the way a glazier fits frames with panes of glass, letting
in light. But I couldn't envision these filaments catching.

Now, like a deaf woman given, for the first time,
hearing, I listen:
every cricket, every peony's slow cracking, every monarch
wing's and lash's flitter, every scrape of pen on paper, magnified.

Anya Krugovoy Silver is Assistant Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Studies First published in The Ninety-Third Name of God (Louisiana State University Press, 2010). Reprinted with permission.

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Issue 45 / March 31, 2016
  1. Editor's Note from March 31, 2016

    Issue 45: The fun in naming, how pyrite changed the world, and why it’s fine that piratebush didn’t change much of anything. /

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  3. The Surprising Riches of Fool’s Gold

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  4. Let Us Now Praise Obscure, Useless Plants

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