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"Bad Omens"

Original Poem for #VocalNPM

Months ago, I realized my son
would die, and the certainty left me weak

for days. A pit
in the lower-right of my abdomen, like a hole

where all truths must be born.
Whenever I have felt such certainty from this place, I have never

been wrong. The first time this part
of my body awoke, I was eight and aware

my barn cat had died. All morning I searched
the different air, and I found him mewling

at the bottom of a rusted barrel where he had
hidden himself away. I carried him home, offered

him water and blankets, only for him to die
a few hours later. Several other instances have

come and gone, and I am always right. This time
the truth comes to me in a repeated dream, where

the beginning is always different. Sometimes
my son appears as the toddler form of the baby

I now hold, knowing the world on two wobbly
legs. Sometimes he appears as a beautiful, gangly

young man with the thinnest veil of hair
on his chest, too dark for his pale skin. Then come

the series of causes: leaning in too close, running,
a fall, pure drunkenness—and finally, the part

that always comes: the deep, foggy dive
into the pit of a pool, never deep enough to resemble

the pit I now carry like a red-hot appendix. His body
like a ball in the foggy water and the certainty

that waves high like the moon I wish would fall. I awake
and hold onto my son like it will undo all the things

I’ve seen. I pray into his neck to go to quieter places—
places not quiet with the loss of my little boy,

where I leave him flowers and toys and visit
his room, surrounded by those I love who are also

colored with grief. I hide in his warmth, here and now, and pray
the rest will be washed away with the bedsheets.