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Female Parent

July 28, 2010

by Jeneva Stone

for Mary Shelley


1997 : I bid my hideous progeny go forth

and prosper. I have an affection for it,
for it was the offspring of happy days
when death and grief were but words
which found no true echo in my heart : M.S., 1831

 

The anxiety cupboard of suburbia : houses gestational pods
daddies scatter for work in their suits and ties

mommies finish breakfast dishes wipe faces push strollers to the park
the daddies return : sometimes : it is dark : sometimes

light : it depends on the season : close the door on your unnecessary fears

 

Natura nihil frustra, is the onely indisputable axiome in Philosophy (T. Browne, 1643)…

 

The delivery room is like this : light & dark : dark & shadows
tightening & relaxing pain crenellating then : easing

sometimes the room goes : white brilliants dancing around
loved face in the center : dark : a spotlight masked faces

all around the margins then you are : stitched

 

…there are no Grotesques in nature nor anything framed to fill up empty cantons, and unnecessary spaces…

 

Forced through barriers love comes : eerily beautiful like God’s breath
beauty a sort of barricade : behind it crouches something unaware

 

1816 : Invention does not consist in creating out of
a void, but out of chaos—it can give form to dark,
shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being
the substance itself : M.S.

 

Mary nurses William on the summer shores of Lake Geneva,
Percy and Byron’s laughter bouncing back to shore in bursts as
the sail inflates, deflates, inflates, a human heart tacking—

The rain drags with it evening sheeting toward the manse,
at the hearth flames grope like hands, clasp and unclasp,
Mary’s imagination birthing, dilating upon so very hideous an idea.

Harriet will drown herself in amniotic waters of dark November,
will force her lungs full with fluid, percolate it through
cell spaces of her brain, her heart, breath after blue breath.

December’s end, cusp of the year, Mary and Percy wed—
vows constellated like a barricade, behind which
Clara forms, cellular spark tindered with a dark breath.

 

1998 : Dream that my little baby came
to life again—that it had only been cold & that
we rubbed it before the fire & it lived : M.S., 1815

 

The Pacific is cold in June—his feet balance on packed sand,
the tide undermines them, a thrill of fear as water surges—
our last snapshot from a great distance, framed icon of normal.

A day in July and he cannot crawl—body now a hospital puppet,
we prop it up, curl around it at night: by day, punctured, digitized
and monitored, tapped for secrets. We ask the wisp inside to stay.

August and still we hold arms down on a white table
too long for him, while the PICU nurse looks for a vein—
his cry is measured, repetitive—resignation, defeat.

September, an end to imagination: reality is nimbler,
quick past this stunned body, disassembled brain—
not what we made, but what love in making requires.

 

…There is therefore no deformity but in monstrosity, wherein notwithstanding there is a kind of
beauty, Nature so ingeniously contriving those irregular parts, as they become sometimes more
remarkable than the principal Fabrick…

 

My heart is a cupboard filled with love and fear : doors snap
open and birds flock out : black pressure rising throngs

a thousand childish vees : half-hearts bursting
as around us small perfect bodies skip a beat while

 

Victor has pushed and pushed his dogs : sled’s runners slicing
rust slough behind them gasping : cold

air burning down : acid air wrenching up blood
exertion : brains flame against the polar ice while

 

Clara : William : Percy—dead—1818 : 1819 : 1822
blue tongues : fevered pores : the brain shuts down

on the sight of blinking lights on shore : or
a face framed with damp black hair while

 

…to speake yet more narrowly, there was never anything ugly, or mis-shapen, but the Chaos

 

ahead of all, the monster leaps nimbly
from floe to floe shrieking
a falsetto promise
to burn himself
alive


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Jeneva Stone — poet, blogger, mother, federal employee, practical g/i nurse, interpreter of EOBs, queen of medical necessity letters, keeper of the family exchequer, unlicensed physical therapist, knowledgeable wheelchair mechanic — may also be found at Busily Seeking… Continual Change.

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  1. July 28, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Oh man.

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