Poetry Archive

Record of Birth 


“We haven’t known each other long enough.”
This was your only declaration. A bloodspell.

Still. I attended every prenatal appointment
by your side like a wheeled nightstand as you moved

In and out, in and out of hospital rooms, stood guard at
the baby shower, pressed my hand over your

bass drum belly as it pulsed with kicks and our hearts
soared, urged nurses to pay you more attention,

watched 5AM waters cascade from you onto
bathroom linoleum, drove you to the delivery room,

rubbed your sciatic nerve as you cried silent
in labor pains, watched his head groundhog

In and out, in and out of you, beheld the flight
he took cocooned in your tunnel of waters, touched

his slime-covered back and cut the cord in a fell slice,
watched gloved hands lift him skyward onto your

flustered chest, calmed him in the voice that
had spoken and sung to him for nine months

while the nurses did their various examinations,
rocked rocked him as you rested and recovered

(and pulled him from you, protective when you
fell asleep with him in your arms in the narrow cot),

wiped meconium from his new, narrow ass,
wrote him poetry. When the social worker came

asking if you wanted to add a second name
to the record of birth, you looked at him,

glanced at me. And shook your head –


MJ is a Black, queer non-binary poet and parent. Their work is featured or forthcoming at Foglifter Press, Rigorous Mag, & Borderlands Texas Poetry Review. MJ has received fellowships from the Hurston/Wright Foundation, SF Writers Grotto, & VONA. They are currently the Community Engagement Graduate Fellow in the MFA program at Mills College.

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