Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
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Fady Joudah

Birth

1.

Three sparrows in the schoolyard while waiting
For my daughter to finish up her play
With friends whose purity she will come
To question in a few weeks and in that way I am
Reminded of the president when he speaks
Of enemies to the opaque side of the
Mirror but only in that way the three

Sparrows ruffled up the dirt as their wings
And heads spun motorbike doughnuts when one
Of them flew away came back with a huge
Potato chip for the other two to fight
Over perhaps he was the provider
Or wasn’t hungry but simply couldn’t
Let a good bit of food go to waste

Then a crow came and the little sparrow
Went zooming into the orange orchard
Knowing fully well he’d lose but hoping
For the best and reappeared with a remnant
The size of his beak and a flurry of birds
Was suddenly on the scene I even thought 
I saw a Fletcher but kept my eyes on that

Little sparrow and am happy to report
He kept what his mouth held though it occurs
To me he was also mean and the one
Who seemed a provider might have been yoked
In that way my wife during delivery was
Rung up like a bar code whenever
The nurse knocked or the doctor was called

 

2.

In the room there were women
Counting up to ten dressed in blue

The doctor was also
Pregnant in her final week

The neonate came out broke
The sound barrier and was whisked

Away from the mother the father
Had cut the cord and having held

Scissors before couldn’t turn down
The doctor’s offer as if he would

Have denied someone entry
Or an exit visa—

Then the women were gone
And neighbors and friends had to go

To work and the mother was left alone
With breast or formula milk

One nurse suggested the latter
Was the better soporific

 

3.

An infant smile
A gas tickle
The price of milk

It goes up and up in war
My son is here to teach me

My temperament is genetic
The only recourse left

Is change like an archaic
Bust or a post-colonial poet

The smile is blind
Dream a spandrel
Turns opiate in the eyes

He grunts impatient wants
Gas out as soon as

It forms in peace
He coos

It’s what doves do
Though excitable
Observant of moving lips

Attempts utterance

Throws up happy spit
And hunger renews