by Maria Achieng Onyango

Cradled at the chest of the Earth –

ribs a hill to the swing of the wind,

my days are sleepers

and my dreams filled

with collapsing pectorals and the

moist lustre of something called placenta.


I know the lightest part of the night,

where I stand to exhibit my stomach

to the waiting air

and strain my abdomen

into a dim imitation of the convex moon

that is soft and heavy with nurturing.


Next morning I watch the birds that

divide my dandelion garden and snatch

a cardinal

from the peaches –

pluck him with overeager hands and weave

a deep womb from the cooling feathers.


In lilting hours I rest my fist inside it,

pushing my fingers to lodge the sides

and hate to know

that my red womb

won’t fit inside the flatness of my torso –

I demolish it, quickly, from the inside.


Every morning I put two fingers in my mouth

to make myself vomit onto the ground –

I cradle the empty air

where my belly should be

and examine in detail my milkless chest

and my ribs, which are aching with loss.