2017 Dorianne Laux & Joseph Millar RR Poetry Prize
Poem for My Unborn Daughter
by Kristin Robertson
Months now I’ve handed you over
in my dreams. To the tall, strange man
on the subway platform. To nuns.
To the firefighter backing down
the ladder. To the masked surgeon.
The strongest swimmer. From evildoers
I’ve hidden you on the top shelf
inside a lidless piece of crockery.
My wherewithal to stash you places
never runs out. You fit inside the air
duct at the Cascade Inn, which shares
with Food City a parking lot taped off
for the bald eagle, her nest a crown
of thorns for the Aisle 6 streetlamp.
I’ve weighted down a duffel bag with
your anchor body, your anvil body.
Instinct, it is, above all else, to save.
When a lab rat’s given a choice to eat
chocolate or free another trapped rat,
a stranger it’s never seen before, it will,
every time, again and again, lift the door.
I’ve sewn you pinch by pinch
into my suitcase like a kilo of cocaine.
Mixed you into suet for grackles to smear
onto their asphalt-rainbow wings. Away
from me I’ve winnowed you like grain.
Tonight I whisper to you, Please drink,
as I flag down a river-bound springbok.