KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Poem: 155 words [R]


by Ona Gritz
The nurses shaped us into positions.
Cradle hold, football hold. My hands
couldn’t take you to the right place.
Cerebral palsy, I mumbled, apology,
explanation. As though those experts
of the body didn’t already know.
Finally, they propped cushions around us.
Your lips touched my breast
but instead of suckling, you dozed.
This had the nurses worried.
I worried how I’d feed you alone.
That night, your wail woke me.
I scooped you up, found the nurse’s bell.
When a new one came, I shyly
explained the pillows, the palsy.
“No,” she said coolly and I stared.
“No. That baby needs sleep not milk.”
I tried again: “he’s hungry.”
Shaking her head, she left our room.
I attempted the football hold.
The cradle. Tried setting up pillows 
then sitting between them. They fell.
Keeping you in my arms, I paced, I sang.
We cried in unison, both of us
so helpless, so desperately new.

—From Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011); republished here by author’s permission

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