Ellen LaFleche

Some grim-lipped nurse opens my blinds. I see late June snow

ripping through perfect petals in the Ladies Auxiliary rose garden.

Wordless, some other nurse cranks up my bed. Soft as pill-bottle cotton,

tufts of snow blunt the rose bush’s fangs.

Some gloved hand yanks my bed curtain across its circular

track. Casketed in white privacy, I gaze at my baby.

Ten piglet toes for counting. Sweet, peach-scented scalp. A perfect heart,

blooming up from the hole in his chest.

June snow freezes into pellets that ping against my window.

Jacob drowses in the bladed cradle of my elbows,

one blue eye opening to the scent of milk.

Just before it dies, Jacob’s heart

surrenders its heat like a lover’s mouth.

It recoils, closing against my lips when I kiss it.

Ellen LaFleche's manuscript, "Workers' Rites", won the Philbrick Poetry Award and was published in 2011 as a chapbook by the Providence Athenaeum. Another chapbook, Ovarian, was also published in 2011. She is the assistant judge of the Sports Poetry and Prose Contest at Winning Writers, and a guest editor at The Naugatuck River Review.

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