Novelties, After the Birth, Cause, and Gratitude

Poems by Jenn Blair

Novelties

And that’s the way of it.

The farmer wouldn’t look his daughter in the face

and when she lay on the cold yellow tile

writhing in her own blood and pain

the thing formed and still

he turned his head out the window and believed

it correct reckoning. Now his mashed up body

is in a box under the ground and his grandson,

desperate, invited the billboards, there where

the sorghum trails off. Pregnant? Call!

proceeded by a woman with brazen bronze thighs

and a pink negligee, hand on her hip bolted firm

some strange knowing look in her eye.

After the Birth

The red smear

slipped out and down

onto the straw—

a bubbling

afterthought

the flies flew clear of

before changing courses.

Did you see it,

My mother asked

as we drove away,

her eye on the curve

not my knees clasped

close together.

Cause

She told all the young wives in the church

to deliver their babies without taking any

bliss to ease the pain, and since she was

the pastor’s wife many of them listened

to her reason: the curse of women, for

biting their teeth down to the rind of the

fruit. And so they gritted their brow and

pushed and prevailed, and then one spring

morning she herself was found on the floor

of her kitchen by the yellow curtains, awash

in her own water and blood and in my mind

I ran and knelt down there beside her and took

her hand and screamed in all anger and love

do we deserve this do we deserve this

Gratitude

She had silver earrings I said

I liked and she said moons

cause I’m on the night shift

and I can’t explain how she counted

when I pushed but whenever she left

the room, I would miss her one two

and three, its confidence,

the way the four five and six believed

in me. She said she sold her

own soaps at the farmer’s market

on Saturdays and five days later,

when I saw the white tent tops

across the street I asked my husband

to stop the car and let me out

and I looked very carefully until

I saw a smallish woman with

a red apron, her back to me,

a fence between us—and I had

thought I wanted to say something

but I stood and stood by that fence

only to find I could not find the words.

So I got back in the car

and touched my baby’s arm

and we drove home.

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Jenn Blair teaches Creative Writing and Victorian Poetry at the University of Georgia in Athens.

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