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  • Writer's pictureAnne Mitchell

Day One in Johns Hopkins Maternity Ward

I run my fingers along the scalloped, frayed photo,

touch the rough edge my father held when he jotted my name

on the back side with his silver Cross pen.

Neat, tight letters that lean right in all caps-

AUGUST 9TH, 1961, 5:09 P.M., 7 LBS. 12 OZ.

Was he awestruck? Did he hold me? Fear me? Or quip

in Captain's lingo, “where’d you sail in from?”

My tiny hands are clenched into fists as though

holding a wee conch, lips pursed for a whisper

through time and faded sepia.

“I blew in here pink, a petal off a Plumeria tree in Palopo,

but once was the dander on the arm of a striped lemur.

I’ve barebacked the barnacles of a blue whale,

we rode the currents from the Marianas to Monterey Bay.

Permission to come aboard?”

Dad glanced at the African violet, his gift slumped

in the heatwave of August, then at my mother rapt in the magic of me.

Thoughts shifted to the Orioles,

would they take the lead in the ninth? He had no cigars,

but he could find a cold Schlitz, a radio tuned in to the game

down at the pilot’s bar, harborside.

Published in July 2022, The Poet Magazine Anthology “FAMILY”


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