When I Announce That I'm Pregnant

by Kindall Fredricks

i become a bonfire       how far along
Everyone needs to know        Eyes apple
by the dozen        12 weeks i crack
a branch with my teeth        An old man wears
a smile like a clearance tag       i’m told
to call him Papa        as a blister pack
of mothers take turns jumping forward to enact
each symptom of pregnancy        My former boss
the one with the spray of chin hair like        tobacco spit
the one who threatened to spank me
for being late        says I hope you plan
on breastfeeding
an evidence board        showing boys split clean
from the sun        American mouths girdled
on their faces        Oooh say the mothers
before i can speak        grabbing their stomachs
and        swaying like loose teeth
Breastfed        your boss slaps the board        turns
and shoots one of the mothers        Not breastfed
he explains as her blood agrees across the floor
Papa wears a smile        like broken glass
Papa asks if they can feel        and despite it all you say
       yes        it’s Papa after all
Everyone cheers everyone
steps over the dead woman to feel you
and now        everyone everyone
       is so warm

Kindall Fredricks (she, her) is a practicing registered nurse and an MFA candidate at Sam Houston State University, focusing on both poetry and the intersection of literature and the medical sciences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Letters, Grist, Sugar House Review, Passages North, Boulevard, The Academy of American Poets, and more.