“Birth” by Millicent Borges Accardi

First Stage in a Lost Relationship (Millicent Accardi)
“First Stage in Lost Relationship,” oil on canvas, Darwin Leon

Not wanting to disturb the marriage,
my parents, or you: I enter backwards,
door through. The hallway strains
with my struggles: thick blooded pores enclose
my shoulders. If I can make it into the safety
of our bed without the angry walls screaming:
“Guilty, Jezebel, guilty,”
then I will be able to breathe.

In the living room, you my dear husband, my love,
you sleep: on the worn out sofa, like a child,
or a man who has given up. If my four legg’ed shadow
can crawl past you all will be well.

The Bible and the headstones will rest
with me, buried deep in trampled grass:
it is where they belong. You never gave me
any trouble, dear husband, but you never gave me
any encouragement, either.

Do not utter a word, sleeping man;
this life we have is not so safe.

Forced into this world with cold forceps,
I now bring myself back. Husband, husband
who is asleep, holding the umbilical cord
like a rubber band: You keep tugging on my body,
making me small.

I am your boomerang who must return;
dragged back like Circe with sperm in my hair;
it is a planned breach un-birth.

And so, tonight after tonight, I will carry
my purse, hide my cigarettes, and pray
that you do not awaken.

Never staying born is a crucifix that weighs
and digs into my bloody shoulders;
it happens every time I leave him to go home.

Not wanting to disturb the marriage,
my parents, or you:
I enter backwards, door through.


Millicent Borges Accardi is the author of two poetry books: Injuring Eternity and Woman on a Shaky Bridge. She received fellowships from the NEA, California Arts Council, Barbara Demming Foundation and Canto Mundo. A second full-length poetry collection Only More So is forthcoming from Salmon Press, Ireland in 2012.

Read an interview with Millicent here.