Excerpt #113, Rocking-Chair Moon

That Certain Glow, Etc.
—Ben

Megan’s already been through this stuff
once before, back when Ethan
was getting ready to make his appearance,
to bless her, then me, with his presence,
but for me everything—

the chemistry experiment
that actually worked,
the early-to-bed at almost-night,
the rush-to-the-bathroom in the morning,
the swollen ankles and ultrasounds
and expanding stomach,
the scale she’s sure can’t be right, not yet,
Maybe it’s predicting
a future weight or something,
the late-night craving
for that special chickpea salad
that she (I, actually) can find only at
that little deli near the Pike Place Market,
a half-hour drive one way
if there’s no traffic (rare)—

is all new and fresh,
but the most unexpected thing is lying in bed
in the dim, dusky light from the window
with my hand on the smooth skin of her bare,
shape-shifting belly and glimpsing a smile
that I was certain when I first saw it
in that pain- and pill-clouded hospital room

could never be surpassed,
but now I detect a one-of-a-kind radiance
behind that smile, charging it,
I see that there really is such a thing
as women who display that certain,
expectant glow despite
their protruding stomachs
and chronic discomfort and
mysterious hormonal goings-on.

I see I was wrong.

New Kid Cruising the Block
—Carly

Mr. Felder (call me Jonas, for God’s sake)
has a new pup, another border collie, I think
—black and white with springs in his legs
and electric energy in every cell.

When he (Jonas. for God’s sake)
jogged past our house this morning
on the route he’s mapped out
from his place in Denture City,
waving hello with one hand,
minding the leash with the other,

I heard him call the little guy Retread,
like he’s the reincarnation
of Sam and Nomo and all the rest
of everyone’s best friends,
gone now.

Dropping In
—Ben

Mom’s been finding reasons
to be driving through the neighborhood,
and she keeps dropping in,
bringing bags and boxes and packages
of things she’s sure we—or the baby
—will need, flitting around
like a mother bird,
helping Megan get ready for the
blessed event,

and now she’s in telemarketer mode,
calling us nonstop, hyper and worried
about leaving in three hours—
Grandpa and his golf clubs along for the ride
—for her mandatory business conference
in sunny Arizona,
with Megan only two weeks short
of her due date and scarily plump.

Mom keeps asking about Megan’s
nesting urges (whatever that means), and
if she’s had any telltale signs or changes,
echoes of how she felt right before
Ethan decided to show up,
and I have to keep promising and swearing
to call—no matter what time of day or night
—if Megan goes into labor.

Megan and I both told her (over and over)
that this little girl
wouldn’t dare show up early
and get off on the wrong foot
with her grandmother,
but I expect at least three more calls
and six more pieces of advice—
and maybe even a drive-by—
before Mom and Grandpa board that plane.

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