The Picture of Vera Rose

by Michelle Bitting

- for V.R.

In the photograph taken of you
by your Godmother
the day you were baptized,
your tiny body, weightless alongside
the steeple's heavy stone,
appears to be floating somewhere
in the sky. Your arms,
two soft stems, stretch out
ready to greet
whatever happens next,
and your gown, a huge billow
of starched white,
is an open parachute
hovering over the earth
like a miniature spaceship
about to touch down.

Your eyes look up
and to the left, slightly:
The edges of your mouth
curve towards heaven the way petals do.
Are you contemplating the shadow
where the ceiling meets the wall,
the Rorschach significance hidden
in a spot of chipped paint,
the itinerate path of a love-sick spider
spinning the same tale
of failure and redemption
year after year
from his disappointed corner,
or is it the primordial "we"
you sprang from so recently
you have not had time
to forget where you came from
and so have not learned
to be a stranger
most of all to yourself?

Maybe you are listening
to the sound of your heart
clapping the beat of its song
in the watery dark
where you crouched, waiting
for your story to begin, and
you are remembering what it felt like
to hear the familiar roar
of a zillion endless voices echoing
into oblivion outside, as if
all those months
the world had carried you around inside its womb.

Michelle Bitting enjoyed careers as a modern dancer anda chef before becoming a mother, poet, and devoted outreach worker. Her poems may be seen in upcoming issues of Mudfish and ON THE BUS.



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