Rebecca Dunham is a member of the senior poetry staff at The Missouri Review, and is pursuing her PhD in Poetry at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in North American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Elixir.
Saint Anne to Her Daughter
Madonna and Saint Anne, Da Vinci
It will not work. He’ll never
fold back into you, body curled
tight, a kitten in sleep. He leans—
seems always to lean—away.
Everything you do pulls death, thick
& woolly, closer to your emptied
flesh. There is room. Skin sags
your shrunken belly. Remember:
there is always room now
for death to clamber into your lap,
heavy as a child & bleating.
It’s in your weight on my legs. The last
prickings of sensation fade, numb
as when you first emerged, smudged
with blood & vernix. I knew:
the fingers tipped with blue.