Seasonal Change of Ward

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The closet was still stuffed with sundresses and cotton skirts
when the call came, despite the calendar hanging heavy
with the orange of pumpkins. The days, languid and warm;
no need for thicker weaves. That first call, answered at my untethered
desk, was all theoretical. What if there was a baby due
with a birth mother painted as “slow?” What if

the race was unknown? The birth father a mystery?
You were merely a list of things to consider. A checklist
for review.
• Fine.
• No problem.
But what if he comes back?

There were movies. Stories gutting the news.
We firmly closed the door, fearful of having our hearts ravaged
by loving and losing you.

The voice on the next call soothed, patted, and incanted
the marvel of your existence. Here already. Baby. Girl.

No supposition.

Right then, someone, not us, was holding a bottle
to your hungry lips. When you cried out, were there hands
enough to lift you? Who, but us, should tuck you next to a heart
that beat steady and certain, a heart willing to risk its very rhythm
to keep you always safe?

October 2013
Julie Ayers

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