August, 1953, by David Wojahn


A nurse gathers up the afterbirth. My mother
*
had been howling but now could sleep.
*
By this time I am gone—also gathered up
*
& wheeled out. Above my jaundiced face the nurses hover.
*
Outside, a scab commands a city bus. The picketers battle cops
*
& ten thousand Soviet conscripts in goggles
*
kneel & cover their eyes. Mushroom cloud above the Gobi,
*
& slithering toward Stalin’s brain, the blood clot
*
takes its time. Ethel Rosenberg has rocketed
*
to the afterlife, her hair shooting flame. The afterbirth
*
is sloshing in a pail, steadied by an orderly who curses
*
when the elevator doors stay shut: I am soul & body & medical waste
*
foaming to the sewers of St. Paul. I am not yet aware
*
of gratitude or shame.
I do know the light is everywhere.

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