Page 176: Eden by Raina Leon

Eden by Raina Leon

for Aiden Gregory Century, 58 days old

1: paradise to flesh

here buzzes the song of fireflies floating
silent lanterns illuminate the haze
she swallowed bugs       her abdomen glows
beneath my hand            a pounding sways
within the growing globe of her body

2: sonogram

Ava      our little bird
Aiden   our little fire

The doctor asks if my sister and me want
to see the faces   I swell
nod my head through tears
and the machine uncoils one face in a hush

my sister’s forehead                      a flat plain
her husband’s nose          all button and wide
Ava’s eyes seem open and I wonder
what worlds she sees
Aiden won’t twist             we sing and warm
him by pressing on my sister’s belly with care
he sleeps stubbornly                      he has shown his heart
the limping pulse               that must be enough
turning is too much                        we smile
not knowing
I hold Ava’s picture like an icon
staring deep into the eye pits
until I feel her stare back


I hold Ava and Aiden is ash
fires burn so fast he flashed in air
no fanning would keep the ember steady
ash on wind        he’s gone
ash on my tongue where I kissed his smooth
forehead newly washed of the tape that held
the monitors of his life

4:                           :

On the last day
I held Ava’s hand to Aiden’s
the first and last time in this world
They’ll play together in their dreams
my sister said like a prayer          the others left

I remained a moment while the girl
cried a goodbye her lips could not form
while he heard a goodbye he could not know

And when it was time for the machines to stop
I carried the bird away from the fire
heavy   heavy   I lost my way
a labyrinth of curtains     infants in pain
mothers weeping in whispers
or in thanks to a god     many

how had that storm found its way
into sunny sterile halls
I could barely see for the light
refracting from the streaming glass
strange and terrible wonderland I must be dreaming

alone I carried the sister
while her brother closed his eyes
to wait for his first bath


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