Birth as decreased
Layer upon layer.
for unavailable creation.
Birth as a fantasy of loss.
Ovarian in mantle
like a fighter, hands
come out fanning.
We reach out with our
fingers: nothing there.
We try to splay
our wings, but we
can feel it is impossible.
There is this relevance,
to speak in sterile language,
our hands could splay,
our wings could spread.
we could not latch.
This must be sadness.
Here, a shroud or shred.
Something bony. A hand,
here, or a wing, splayed
out. Subsequently, our
condition was discovered
to be a fetus. Our lives
were then discovered to be
fetuses. Everything was
a fetus, but then nothing
was a fetus, and our eyes
broke into guarded life.
A you and I were in it, and we ate.
We put some others in it, and they ate.
We couldn’t seem to make out shapes.
Instead we intuited our movements,
called our homestead camp, unfurled
our filthy sleeping bags and zipped them
to our napes. Teeth rooted, crimson tongues
unfurled, we exercised our self-restraint
by preying on the dis-interred, the already-
extinct. We wanted to wake up, but slept.
In dreams, we gnashed our tongues between
our teeth, mouthed sounds to imitate,
but found we could not speak. Our eyes
would close. Our hands would weep. Since
chaos is what causes chance, we buffeted
our tents, repaired our fences, had our
wounds re-lanced. All through the camps:
carnality. The sun bled red from East to West.
We always knew what we were eating.
Katy Lederer is the author of three books of poems and a family memoir. These poems are from her fourth full-length collection, The Engineers, forthcoming on Solid Objects in 2021. In addition to writing poetry, she regularly writes essays about climate change and energy economics for print and on-line magazines.