Denise Duhamel

Magic Realism

I incubated in a crystal ball, a glass womb not unlike a snow globe.  I jostled this way and that as my mother walked, carrying her uterus under her arm.  I grew into the future, each sonogram a weather prediction, an economic forecast.  What power I yielded! 

If it were up to my mother, she would have stayed pregnant forever, what with the press and special privileges I afforded her.  But eventually I outgrew the small town of the snow globe.  I started to squeeze the little houses with my fist and suck on the trees.  I’d swallowed all the snow-confetti.

I was boy and girl, bird and mammal.  I was born the only way the doctor knew how.  She tapped the glass with her forceps, making a precise crack.  My mother let out a great moan as the push of the water broke me loose.  I leapt into my mother’s arms without incurring a scratch, her womb shattering on the hospital tile.

“Look,” said the doctor.  “A baby.”

“If you say so,” my mother sighed.

I vowed not to be a disappointment.

Denise Duhamel

Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry Blowout (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Ciricle Award. Her other books include Ka-Ching! (Pittsburgh, 2009), Two and Two (Pittsburgh, 2005), and Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001). She is the recipient of a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship. The guest editor for The Best American Poetry 2013, she teaches at Florida International University in Miami.