Even I keep secrets
shhh     I’m in love
with fingers caressing my insides
feeling coils
fiddling with my fan
I live by touch
by brink
a contract between      love       grief
& up to elbows nurses
in soapy rubber gloves shining everything spotless

Growing an infant is like flowers pulling themselves up stems
fish swimming against a strong current
Mothers press their noses flat on my glass leaving prints
Fathers inspect pipes and hinges
tilt their heads
snap a photo.
When my doors open their brows soften & lips form a thin line
I know their flesh aches

I see everything
all day ragged callous faces stare
The Fat lady jellies through the door
sweet-eating lips & rubenesque cheeks pucker
thinking she might scoop a little one up
hide it in her folds.
The Tattooed Lady sets up her easel
mouth slews side to side sketching
Her India-ink eyes seek out faces I show her.

I’ve outsmarted death many times
For some the hour glass sand runs out
& like a dule of doves
angels grace the room
lift them with one wing
into traceable trailing light
There is beauty in a pain that proves you alive
even when you’re not.



Kathleen Strafford is a graduate of Trinity University holding an MA in creative writing.  She has been widely published on webzines and anthologies Her first collection of poetry Her Own Language was published by Dempsey and Windle in 2017.  Kathleen’s second poetry collection was published by Yaffle in 2019.  She is also the chief editor of Runcible Spoon Webzine and publishing.  This poem is from her  forthcoming pamphlet, Dr Couney’s Side Show (everyone loves a baby).