It was 3:37 a.m. when the sheet was stripped from my body. When I awoke to her hysterical eyes. Harsh light from the bathroom catching in streaks of tears. She had a dream. She had taken the last egg from the carton. Cracked it on the edge of the sink. Pulled the two halves apart and an unformed chick landed in the basin. Fluff matted down. Body limp.
The next afternoon the ultrasound tech slid the transducer over her swelling belly in search of our baby’s sex.
Four days later I helped her to the car after the extraction. Rearview mirror pregnant with Planned Parenthood.
It was 4:12 a.m. when she crept into the guest bedroom (the room I had been relegated to) seven months later and gently shook my shoulders. I startled awake and she told me the chick had struggled to its feet. That she had swaddled it in the hand towel with frilly edges and embossed morning glories. Held it in a slant of light. Fed it breadcrumbs and thistle seeds. Watched it grow.
She held the placard on picture day. NEWTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – GRADE 3. The rest of us fidgety behind her. Lined up on cement stairs. Clutching ourselves against the cold. The girl we called “skunk” because she smelled. Who had short brown hair. The girl who had blue eyes. Blue eyes sandwiched between thick brows and dark circles. The girl who always looked down. Who wore a frilly white dress with puffy sleeves to school that day. Red roses stitched to the hem. White tights. Shiny black shoes. The girl we taunted. Is that a wedding dress? Why weren’t we invited to the wedding? Which first-grader are you marrying? The girl whose father shot her mother that night.
The following Monday we sat in the lunchroom. Chicken nugget and french fry day. Thumbing through Garbage Pail cards. Trying to find one riddled with bullet holes. Blossoms of ketchup congealing on our trays.
Corey Cook is the author of three chapbooks. His poems have appeared in Ballard Street Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, Floyd County Moonshine, Loch Raven Review, The November 3rd Club, Pearl, Pig in a Poke, Plain Spoke, Willard & Maple, and elsewhere. Recent work has been featured in The Aurorean, Boston Literary Magazine, Brevities, The Germ, The Legendary, Red River Review, Smoky Quartz Quarterly, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and Wilderness House Literary Review. Corey edits The Orange Room Review with his wife, Rachael. They live in Thetford Center, Vermont.