Uterus as baby as breathing as wellfield as contraction

by Leah Claire Kaminski Issue: Spring/Summer 2021

In my sleep I felt my fundus,
four fingers till I hit the bottom of my ribs.

I worry you’re too small, some recalcitrance in me
digging in against your growth.

In the morning I count contractions
to make sure they’re false (just testing just flex no push),
time them, my breath shallowing towards 15 minutes.

I count your kicks, maybe they’re hiccups,
maybe you’re not really moving much at all.

(11 minutes)

Last night at the dinner table Joan told me I am so calm.
As if all of this terror is processed in and out under each breath
as if we are bearing it all alone
as if it’s sunk into you.

Wellfields in Florida are sucking up salt water.
Chekika Hammock, where we used to swim,
has been closed and my mother
was sad to hear it until we found it was sucking sulfur up
pluming it into the water around.

(4 minutes)

Now the wellfields are sucking salt up 
coughing it back out,
now the salinity off the coast is low,
wastewater draining 
out    both sides drowning.

The breathing chest. Lever depressed
and salt flows in, risen and it flows out;
you’re moving in me now     you are everywhere at once,
echo to my breast and thigh.
Sometimes you beat me with hands and feet,
I’m your floor and walls, I’m your room, I’m the inside 
of your moon the balloon you float in.


I’m a cursor on an empty page, 7 minutes now and waiting for the squeeze.

(10 minutes, mild)

Those photographs of lily pads: like deep sea or space, 
one spongy and red-green as placenta,
cord from the middle,
discoid.
I think this is where you are, water so clear and dark it’s black
and you are somewhere.

In the NICU how do they help preemies breathe?
I saw one yesterday in my app,
he had a nose big as a shark.
26 weeks when born.
Little shark stay there.

(5 minutes)

Stay through contractions, well drills like pressure 
to the belly of the ground.
The clouds and sky like watchful eyes 
waiting for it to breathe or press.


(6 minutes)

(7 minutes)

(4 minutes)

(9 minutes)
 



Leah Claire Kaminski

Leah Claire Kaminski's poems appear in places like Bennington Review, Fence, Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and ZYZZYVA. Dancing Girl Press published her chapbook PENINSULAR SCAR. Recent honors include Grand Prize in the Summer Literary Seminars Fiction & Poetry Contest and in the Matrix Magazine LitPOP awards judged by Eileen Myles, and a residency at Everglades National Park. She lives in Chicago with her family. Find out more at www.leahkaminski.com