I. PrenatalA is for artifice,
A for abdomen,
A for adulteryBisecting my belly, there’s this dark line. I am known and knowing. I bear in mind He sang to me the Song of Songs, and how My body was his goblet. Spilling wine now, Scarlet threads, pooling in puddles, bloody Fretwork of show, how it begins…II. PerinatalB is for Bastard,
B for blasphemy,
B for baby, belovedI am the oyster, and she is my world— This flesh of my flesh. And here the scaffold Supports us, bone of my bones, and here The skeleton supports the skin; here each Stitch traces scarlet vines, fanciful Flowers, across my leaking breasts, here one Becomes twain, the umbilicus severed, The rose-red cry of first breath, the one Crying in the wilderness.III. PostpartumC is for crowning,
C for childbirth,
C for cradleOur scissor-split bodies are globes, Worlds made flesh, of flesh, this gem from An irritant—silt, seawater, amnion, Blood, arterial red. Now the needle’s Mercurial, flashing in and out of The linen, over and under, over And over, fashions my beginning— Alpha, the first, the firstborn; the twisted Fretwork of stitches in scarlet are lines Embroidering the truth, not the red-letter Words of his testament, but, daughter, vines That enmesh us, tangled roots we’ll unwind.
D is for distaff
Parker comments on her poem:
I was attempting an abecedarian poem, which was a new form for me, and couldn’t get past A: Palmer-precise looping ones, report-card pointy printed ones that look like a swingset in profile, gold-burnished ones that fade to a palimpsest on the vellum of medieval prayerbooks. I thought of The Scarlet Letter, and the poem came very quickly thereafter.
You might notice that I didn’t stray far past C. I’ll continue to try the abecedarian form until I get to Z.
Broadside Series - Contents