Weekdays when I pushed a stroller, I sheltered an infant’s eggshell skin in a canopy of rocket ship sheets and mosquito net. I imagine babies’ skulls stay open to invite the sky, fontanelles unfurled like a convertible. That semester I charged 20 dollars for every hour of changed diapers, read headlines embedded in the stomachs of senior girls. In science class, I built a nest for an egg with fake eyelashes and pipe cleaner curls. If the shell breaks, you do not get an A, so I swaddled her in a cardboard crib with my mom’s nightgown and severed issues of Seventeen. The stars of 16 & Pregnant beamed cautionary on the cover. Like a foretold nursery rhyme or curse, the egg soared, then sundered. My teacher said, What is beautiful will never be durable. The amount of eggs in my body also falls slightly below average, bloody and exact in its subtraction. I got a C minus to imply, Sometimes, this just happens. I know God can smell fear like petrichor or prayer. The mother I babysit for keeps a diary that reads, I’m terrified of being needed. How do you hold a love that screams? I still makeshift the physics of maternity. I held a baby like an ovum, an omen, and felt the fissure. Before our world broke like a mobile, I dangled beauty above us like something we could touch. I pointed at a cumulus crown of curls in the sky and said, There’s a giraffe with eyelashes. I let her run a toy convertible across the ridges of my head. I bit the faces off of her animal crackers so she would never have to taste death.
Kara Lewis is a poet, writer, and editor who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. Her poems have appeared in Stirring, Plainsongs, Sprung Formal, Boston Accent Lit, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of the John Mark Eberhart Memorial Award for a collection of poetry, as well as a weekly blogger for the Read Poetry site.