First Response

by JENNIFER GIVHAN

 

The glass jelly jar our small girl squatted over in the steam & tile

& peed into    I have no idea why the jar was in the shower

but noticed its highlighter hue    remembered months before    the smell

of another cup on the ledge    This time I ask her why    again   

this strange deed    A boy I heard of    lazy or terrified in the night

caught his    sunflower yellow in bottles under his bed    dozens of them   

It feels like that    the hoarding    You’d lost your job    we’d moved in

with my mom    I’d yard-sold all the baby things & wedding gifts

75 cents per plate   robin’s egg blue   & best offer on the silverware   

I began to save every jar    baby food we’d bought with WIC    plums  

spaghetti sauce    peanut butter    Once we’d eaten our fill    I fed

the dog    or the earthworms in my mother’s patch of grubby lawn  

I emptied like cherries sweet & dark my own pearled eggs    unsticking

from my uterine walls    the other babies I’d made up for us  

You call this our dusk time    We have just enough   

She was practicing    she said    for the doctor’s    how she couldn’t

before    she’d had a UTI though she didn’t call it that    We never

call things what they are    I’ve been bleeding into jars each empty night