Sarah Hulyk Maxwell lives in Pittsburgh. She has two cats, a dog, a husband, and an MFA from Louisiana State University. Her work, both poetry and fiction, has appeared in various publications, most recently The Mississippi Review.
Former gestation ghost-child.
Calcified, until just recently
when the stomach began jumping,
and you corrected the doctor:
not abdominal muscle spasm, hiccups.
An indication of potential
more than life sign.
But we know how to reach in pre-dilation
(let us bring your stone baby back to life)
with forceps and only a little ripping
of removal and placement into a pan
for the Sculpting.
Haven’t you ever heard, we are the clay,
you are the potter—we are the work of your hands?
Because the fruit fell from the tree onto her elbow
She had mango arm.
A rash from the juice.
Her father said, put alcohol on it.
She did. It got infected.
She went to the ER.
There were open sores.
Her father said, place mango slices inside.
They did. A tree sprouted, roots slipped into veins.
She couldn’t feel the arm.
Her father said, shake the tree.
She did. The roots broke through her skin.
They’d have to amputate,
(re)plant the whole arm into the ground
but there was the possibility of abnormal growth—
a finger on a limb, a mango-ed wrist.
Her father said, we’ll take our chances.
Not a single normal human arm sprouted.
She chose a limb instead that was all mangos
save a thumb.
My stomach loses shape and expands into the rest of me. It slides an arm of itself into my arm, a leg of itself into my leg and then gets thicker and wider until all of my inside is stomach, full. My cells are marbles. My kidneys float. My eyes are bobbing. Intuition tells me to unplug the drain between my legs and let it all go but I will never let my water break. I think myself as floating, the ocean on my back, the ocean born of a small leak in my spine to the world. I heard a preacher say once that dying here would be the worst way to go, but you just have to imagine a moon instead of a sun then make sure you fill up your lungs to the brim.