black pen making indelible,
what was chosen the day before, and the whomp
of early morning temperatures,
the alarm at seven, the cold tip of thermometer,
seconds tick, but I’ve fallen back to sleep anyway,
the beep will wake me again and I’ll chart,
little record book, and wonder
should it have been another day,
did I not linger enough, should I have accepted
more work, become a cowgirl, waved
my hat in the air, little white flag?
A commotion, my twin ovaries,
disagreement of movement,
in ultrasound, one feigns shy—
a longer search, the slide of arm-furze
against arm, tucked away, hidden bit.
They are competing now: it’s one awful pang
after another, that Mittleschmertz, unkind gentleman.
Doubled fists insisting, that one, then another,
small fingers along that curvature.
I paint the Daruma in: one black eye,
yolked in ink. They say the shucking,
the every day becomes a chore, but I disagree.
Each afternoon or evening,
whenever the sun feels brightest within,
it’s a giggling secret,
our slip and summons, and that half hour after,
following the recipe—
we’re defying gravity together.
There’s the new one whose evening glow
speaks of dim light tucked into curled frescoes,
humped ceilings painted in gold and blue, robed figures,
a barrette of sound echoing against the night. Sleep is now
castle-bound, lingering with the princess in the tower,
the knight’s heart locked away against that draft.
Those lozenges click in my hand, beans to count at lamplight,
perched on a spindly stool, a treasure, a promise,
a beanstalk away from here to where the air
pressure reminds you back to earth. There one goes,
a little sleep-bean, a firefly lighting the tunnels, breaking apart
to only the glow left, captured in a bottle, a nightlight,
to keep you safe.
Molly Sutton Kiefer’s chapbook The Recent History of Middle Sand Lake won the 2010 Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in Harpur Palate, Berkeley Poetry Review, Gulf Stream, Cold Mountain Review, Wicked Alice, and Permafrost, among others. She serves as poetry editor to Midway Journal and curates Balancing the Tide: Motherhood and the Arts | An Interview Project. She currently lives in Red Wing with her husband and daughter, where she is at work on a manuscript on (in)fertility and finishing her MFA at the University of Minnesota. More can be found at mollysuttonkiefer.com .