When I open my legs,
my body still smells of birth:
blood’s copper tang, amniotic’s slippery sweet,
the musk scent of wet stone and earth.
My breasts look pornographic
for a day: hot and hard and heavy
before they empty like lemons, all
function over form, alien udders,
spidery-veined hives prickling
with milk at a cry, cracked
nipples beading, then dripping
down my elbows and thighs.
Later, my breasts will eat themselves,
cannibalize excess milk, fat, debris of alveoli.
My throat is still raw from six hours of bellowing like a
bull in heat, begging for exorcism, the room a pinprick:
back wracked with spasms, sweat slick skin, the sickening,
quickening surge and hurl.
I sit for fifteen minutes
twice a day on my sitz bath,
cradling the soft hammock of my belly,
scrolling instagram as my organs rearrange themselves.
One post lets me know, Mama,
your body may not bounce back.
In the comments, a woman asks when
can she expect to get her body back?
At the sole postpartum check-up, the midwife levers
me open with a speculum, inspects where the skin split like a banana peel, then slips
her fingers into the furrow between my stomach muscles.
Congrats, she says. You can have sex and exercise.
After the appointment, I pause in the parking lot to pull my son
into my arms, prop the car door open. As the good burn of
milk made and drawn sets like ink into my skin, I wonder
at my reflection in the animal black of his eyes.
Hosanna Greene is a poet from South Carolina. She currently lives in Cambridge, England, where she spends her days chasing down a good cup of coffee and her toddler (in that order). You may find a rare tweet of hers @hosannagreene on Twitter.