When it finally happened, when the girl broke free, pushed out, doctor elbow deep in me, massaging a weeping uterus—it would be weeks later between diaper changes, a hardened umbilicus fell. Listless from lack of sleep I missed its leap, sixty centimeters of legacy cut to a stump, this physical keep— my body’s ancestral store, snipped, shuttered, lost. By the second child, a boy, I knew. He would be the last. So I kept a bloodshot eye on the striated yellow hardening knot, this sieve, this tether, triad of blood vessels. How crucial this lifeline from fetus to placenta to me, how essential I was each breath, each bite, until I was not.
Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of Haint, (Gival Press) winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is a Cave Canem fellow and has received fellowships to attend the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Hedgebrook. She is a member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. Her work has been published in many anthologies including: Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC, The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, Not Without Our Laughter: poems of joy, humor, and sexuality and The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic. Her work can be read online and in journals including: Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Delaware Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Harvard Review, Kestrel,Little Patuxent Review, Natural Bridge, North American Review, MER VOX, Poetry Ireland Review, Poet Lore, and Tin House. She lives in Maryland with her husband, poet Hayes Davis and their two children.
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