Christine Degenaars

First Son

I am a home

for something, not myself.

 

Last night my husband said

he could leave here any second,

 

just say the word, having outgrown

this one bedroom, this lack.

 

I’m not ready, can’t picture anything

outside myself in a week’s time.

 

I want a Thursday night,

tight sequined skirt, tugging it down my thigh

 

as I sit on the subway. A stranger to look,

see the real thing under my skin, the whole

 

of my twenties laid bare and repeated again,

one long carnival ride after another,

 

mango sunset, cotton candy smell,

winking lights turned music, dancing across

 

a wide mirror, baby teeth sharp, black

along the gum, my bare feet, cracked glass—

 

I don’t feel good. And the children next door shriek

as they take to the elevator, go down nine flights

 

for fresh air. Snot dried to their lips,

hands sticky as they press the button down

 

until it beeps. How little I want

them, how bad is that to say? My stomach grows

 

sore, my back aches in preparation.

I don’t think I like myself

 

enough to make two. Motherhood: a form

of vagrancy, no body my own. Manhattan skyline

 

strips down, without shadow. The sidewalks blaze.

June at last. It nearly happens to me.

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Christine Degenaars has work published and forthcoming in several journals, including Nimrod International Journal, Cider Press Review, The Laurel Review, and KGB Bar & Lit Journal among others. She is the recipient of two Bishop Kelleher Awards and an honorable mention for the Bennington Award. She is an MFA candidate in poetry at Hunter College and lives in New York City.