every brass pipe bleats Mendelssohn
men, half-past forty, rest, uneasy
on tips of their spines
thin-shouldered women with corrugated hair
the smell of turnips and potted begonias
pucker at the edges
young girls bright as spring flowers
await tap of the heel on an oak plank
until she is in motion nothing happens
and she is carved of seed pearl and peau-de-sois
carved of light, all vital organs
sealed in canopic jars
carved of scintillating crystal
of reverberating melody so resonant
a single high note might shatter her
the storm of weeping begins
knees slowly fold
the carapace of religion slips into place
colored silk ritual:
studied cant of the head
galaxy of lighted candles
tongues whisper mantras
wrap the familiar Latin
rich, creamy as custard
then the scent of extinguished candles
the yellow patina of smokers’ hands
Her first appearance in black and white,
and the nurse burbles with enthusiastiasm:
Oh, look! Here’s a little knee!
And, over here, this is her shoulder!
I see blur—nebulous, amorphous.
Then, a tentative web-fingered hand,
a narrow foot, and just as if she heard us
an immaculate profile. Snubbed nose.
Well-formed lips. Dainty chin. Above
whoosh and gurgle of my imperfect body,
the rapid rhythm of her perfect heart.
I am awed. Deep in my belly’s cocoon,
she becomes. Radiant. Exquisite.
In tie-back, faded gown, suddenly I am
Wonder Woman, able to deflect bullets
with a plastic hospital bracelet.
At the breast Plump, tender-bodied locusts
emerge snug shells
leaves unfurl, spring forth
fingers grasp my thumb tip
skin soft, down-covered
no cloying perfume
hyacinth or gardenia
her scent is clean
sweet as rosemary
subtle as sage
I breathe her in
sprawled, milk-sotted, at my breast
her world extends
no higher than my face
Ann Howells lives with her husband, Dennis; her daughter, Denise; and her wire-haired terrier, Trevor, in Dallas, TX. She is a long time member of Dallas Poets Community, a 501-(c)-3 non-profit and currently serves as president. She has edited their biannual poetry journal, Illya’s Honey, for twelve years. When not involved in poetry endeavors, she enjoys photographing Texas courthouses, painting, and discovering new chocolate desserts. Ann can be reached at email@example.com