Stillborn
David Watters


from BABY


Near the end of winter,
While mending buried fence lines,
We found a colt
Frozen to the ground.
Baby, this is what you
Must have looked like, unborn,
Translucent and without hair.
 
I ran my fingers down
Its dried river beds and across
Its mountainsides.
Saw through its skull
A boreal forest,
The vast tundra of its hide
Covered in lichen.
The grasslands between its ears,
The sage brush canyon
Of its hock and tibia.
The swampland of its pelvis
Full of bullhead lily,
Golden crest, and purple loosestrife.
 
I can’t pretend our skins
Are not the star filled skies
Of other worlds, or that three years later,
Before they became
Scared starlings,
My hands were a pack of wolves.
There is only so much
Screaming I can take
Before I almost become my father,
 
And, yes, it’s like building a fire.
Start with the tinder,
Next place a stick in the ground
And cause it to bend.
 
This way you build up tension
So that it only takes
A single spark,
To enrage the wood to flame.