February 23, 2018

Tiffany Promise



You should be thirty-three today, Jesus’ age, 

Gran-Gran’s dreaded thirty-through

Instead, you’re eight months passed

and I know each moment like I know my baby’s soft spot. 

As her skull hardens, yours becomes dust. 


I was thirty-eight weeks pregnant—a whole universe inside—

while you were breathing only by machine.

The others encircled (plugs/tubes/tears)

but I couldn’t risk labor on a plane. 


You’d weathered the chops—so ripe with trauma 

it’s a wonder your skin didn’t slip right off (mine did)—

only to be outdone by the silly kitchen floor: 

skull-buster, brain-bleeder, ender of a fucking era.


Posey stitched on your blood pressure cuff, 

you two were together in the deep in-between: 

playing Pogs, cold-cut-snacking, hijinks for days,

before the old switcharoo: earth to moon, Moon to earth.


In June, we’ll celebrate Poe’s first year,

her face smashed in trés leches, balloons to fill the room. 

As she eats avocado, learns to walk, says ghost, cracker, angel

I’ll remember that pepper-sniffing, yoke-tongued boy you were,

blondie bear, stinky pot, little brother.


With her every inch, your void gulfs.

Tiffany Promise's writing has previously been published in Black Clock, Blanket Sea, and Gingerbread House. She received her MFA from CalArts a few years ago, and is currently living in Victoria, B.C. while figuring out how to juggle motherhood and writing. She just completed her first novel.