Afterbirth

     Colm O’Shea

 

Our daughter exploded into the moment: a cork

bursting from the bottle of her mother.

As we swaddled her, and swooned,

falling head over heels into new life,  

a second message—slower, more patient

—delivered itself from some sunken place.

 

Placenta. It slipped into a plastic basin,

silent as stillbirth in a stew

of blood and amniotic fluid. Alien.   

A grotesque tree snaked up its back:

roots that had nourished us from rich soil.

 

Placenta. Latin for flat cake.

We declined to eat it.

Swallowed up in a bio-haz bag,

a threat to life, it was ready for the flames.

Let them burn the roots, I thought,

I’m here for the flower.

 

That night I saw, stemming from the Abyss,

unsinging and unsung, an endless sea,

purple with perpetual broods of jellyfish

all rising in long coils to the light above,

parachutes pulsing upward,

autonomous dreams.

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Colm O'Shea teaches essay writing at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. The first thing he ever wrote for pleasure was a poem. His poetry has been anthologized in "Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century" (Bloodaxe Books), his spec-fic novel Claiming De Wayke is available from Crossroads Press, and his study on Buddhist metaphysics, schizophrenia and modernism, James Joyce's Mandala, is available from Routledge. Visit him at colmoshea.com.