Thursday, 13 September 2018


Baby Sister

by Shannon Phillips


I can’t comfort you
in your hospital room,
your baby down the hall,
the new velvet of her
accessorized
with tubes and sensors.

You are no longer
all she knows.

I can’t comfort you
because I don’t know if everything
will be okay. Even as a young child,
I knew okay was a gift, not a guarantee.

I haven’t forgotten my own
pregnancy; the untimely ultrasounds
—too early, I’m sorry, we found a cyst that could be…
—too late, He is breech. You’re due in a week?

I haven’t forgotten
my placenta hovering over
the birth canal, a fleshy barge
bearing signs warning of rupture, hemorrhage.

I can tell you that a healthy child now
does not erase the memory of our time
as stewards of the hall light,
as guardians of breath,
executors of presses
to the bottom of a brand new foot, seeking
that red bloom around our thumbs.

I hug your husband,
but I can’t hold you right now,
can’t come too near
lest you find out that I am afraid, too.
For what use is a big sister fallen
apart?


* * * * *

Shannon Phillips is a freelance editor and aspiring translator (Arabic-English) who earned her MFA in creative writing from California State University, Long Beach. She has two chapbooks: Body Parts with dancing girl press and My Favorite Mistake with Arroyo Seco Press. When she isn’t busy reading Nordic noir or letting her tea get cold, she can be found napping with her Russian Blue. She is also the founding editor of Picture Show Press.