An Unfunded Study of the Afterbirth

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“An Unfunded Study of the Afterbirth” by Sarah Wolfson, appears in the Winter 2019 Issue of MQR.

When it had been seen to

    that the grayness had

        receded, that the birthed


could breath and suck, that

    the mother had uptaken

several stitches of a fiber


as powerful in every sense as

    spider silk, that the after-pain

had shrunk down to a boot


abandoned in a puddle,

   the child who would sooner

than I could know spin phrases


like “I’ll heal” and “I hate

   you” slept with contentment

uncharacteristic of her recent


world-leap. Then, when the bustle

   relaxed into coffee and crosswords,

and the nurse turned on her lazy


ether of success tossed with

   almost finished, almost perfect paperwork,

I asked to see the placenta.


They brought it smooth side up,

   bearing it like friendly handmaids

but also perfunctorily as if to say:


this is a duty and a game;

   smell the wine but don’t

complain. It was red, of course,


the red of held-togetherness,

   the red of monk-trampled

cordial, and smooth as all


get-out. It might have been

   the moon, not the hidden, snarled

rootball of its underside. I liked it.


It looked fine in its stainless

   steel pan. It glowed, but I didn’t

want to take it home.

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This poem appears in the Winter 2019 Issue of MQR.