Tanka as Mary
Kaethe Schwehn (bio)

Sick of ointment, sack, and path.
Sick of the backwater of my husband’s mouth.
The room is three stale mattresses
pushed together to raise the price.

Now the sheets are wet with blood.
Joseph says my face is pale. A car
beeps by outside. The wet world sits
on my empty body then peels
back wailing. A car beeps by.

Joseph returns with pineapple juice,
fingerprints staining the glass.
A long dark hair wiggles in
the orange light at his collar.
Your face looks pale, he says.

The afterbirth is in a plastic
turquoise bucket. I reel my
body up and over to a hole
to squat.

And no one comes. No animals or stars.
I pull my hands up into my sleeves
and touch my face.

I go to the window and run my finger
over a dust coated slat and still
no one comes.

This time, I pull Him to my breast,
He lives. Day bellows in me.

I go and kneel and ripen

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