The Contract

Three times you received a squalling, sticky baby.
On your lined palms the warmth, the bruise-tender skin,
aching in new air;
an angry bag of bones.
With the weight of the body comes the weight
of the life to come. I receive you
into myself, you said, as you opened your hands
and took them.
You used your hands to make good on that promise:
manipulating swollen breasts into vice-mouths,
swiping salt tears with a thumb,
scooping vomit from neck and hair.
Can’t say you weren’t warned. It was all there
the first time, split and seeping,
as you rested one raw palm on a downy back,
watched your life splinter to fragments, and
gladly let it all go.
Rachel Jeffcoat
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