The Birth Mothers
You knew you could tell me your story:
how you were your own child’s Solomon.
We cracked grief like eggs
over a bowl of solitude.
We made a pie with our pain and served it
to each other a slice at a time
until our hands were stained with sorrow,
and the old smell of sadness
rose like a sweet loaf,
ready to be devoured.
Was it your reflection in my eyes
that opened door upon door to a hallway
where you recognized
my heartache as your own.
Like a baptism, like a naming.
The cardinal at the feeder
red-feathered in his flight
and the one who came after
spitting the seed, hull husk blond
and narrow silver sliver.
The rabbit who came to see.
Ripple of wave in the grass,
ripple of sun that followed.
Sooty milkweed pod
with its threaded silken beard.
How they all appear, as if I’m not here,
so effortless and so quiet.
Cathy Mellett’s poetry has appeared in California Quarterly, Calliope, The Ledge, The MacGuffin, and more. The lovely but now-defunct press, Poetry New York, published her chapbook, “Saturday Afternoon in My Kitchen.”