nine years of fallow, nine babies
conceived, then lost before the first finger formed:
my grandfather told my mother to call
when she had good news to share.
What my mother called a miracle,
I called ten pink fingernails perfectly intact.
What my mother called God’s hands,
I called blue latex gloves and a botched incision,
line cutting across her pelvis like a toothed zipper.
Let me explain:
when my mother’s cells
attacked my father’s cells,
a doctor intervened.
You were a science experiment of sorts
my father teased when I was too young
to understand: my sister’s hair haloed in gold
and mine the color of beach-beaten sand.
He conjured images of witch doctor, black magic,
head-child fully armored in titanium and rage.
But after me, the treatments failed
and I learned that lightning never strikes
the same place twice,
the flecks on her stomach,
formed where she drove thin needles under her skin,
fading into soft freckles,
her womb hollowed like a chestnut.
Natalia Conte was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is greatly inspired by the strong women who raised her to be a proud feminist. She is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry at North Carolina State University while working at a fun, eclectic coffee shop. Her writing has appeared in So to Speak Magazine, Atlas and Alice, and The Roanoke Review, among others.