This time I had given birth
to a child with a dark, remarkable tail.
Part animal, part girl.
I wanted no one to see her,
not even the father. I wanted my privacy
to put her back inside me,
back through the glop of the birth neck,
into the bluish glue my body had made
for her for seven months. It was not time,
she must wait, come back
when the animal had been outgrown. I held her briefly
in my arms, stroked her tail before
we parted, her eyes
nursing the dark moons.
She was never my daughter, and yet
her own wild light
into the room so that when I opened my eyes
the first thing I saw was snow
shoulders in the windows.
The last I saw of her.
About the Author: Laurie Kutchins' poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, and other places. She has published two collections of her poetry: The Night Path (winner of the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award) and Between Towns. Her essays have appeared in The Georgia Review and various anthologies. Kutchins teaches creative writing at James Madison University, and offers private workshops that explore and nurture interconnections between creative and therapeutic processes. She lives in Virginia.
"Birthdream," copyright © 1996 by Laurie Kutchins, first appeared in The New Yorker (June 3, 1996) and was reprinted in The Night Path (BOA Editions, 1997). The poem may not be reproduced in any form without the author's express written permission.