Michelle Bonczek Evory

Forecast

The wind swelled and broke into fat drops
pounding the roofs of cars. It pooled garden beds,

washed away seeds, bent sunflowers, dowsed
jackets and jeans with an uncomfortable, cold

weight. Joggers in dark wet sweats and men
in suits leapt from curbs as though they could fly

to the other side of these streets that had become
rivers running against their will. On a country road,

a young woman in bright pink boots stops
her car and walks slowly up to the mouth

of a puddle, testing its depth. Beneath an oversized
pink umbrella, the girl stands a hundred feet

in front of my car, picturing her mother’s gray
Buick stuck, imagining lowering her feet to the flood

as it rushes into the front seat of her life. I know
because I was once this girl, innocent, calculating

the world’s edges. Now, I am the woman
behind this girl, honking my horn, yelling from my car

window, “What are you doing?” I slam my door, pop
open a big blue umbrella and follow her calling,

“You’re blocking the road!” And she keeps still,
a pink peony with legs, until I am behind her.

She is looking up at the falling sky, standing
to her calves in cold water. “You’ll be fine,” I say.

She says nothing. “I’ve already been through this,”
I say. She is so unacknowledging of my presence

that even I question if I am really standing there, if
maybe I am dreaming, if this whole life has been

a dream. I am not there. The way my mother was
not there when she’d raise her voice about grades,

howl her worries about frat boys she’d make up
whose real names I didn’t know, the boys

who were going to get me pregnant, she was sure,
before I could land a job with good health benefits.

I’ve been driving the same car, my mother’s old
Mazda, for fifteen years. The right headlight is

cracked, windows fog in rain and I have to wipe
the windshield while I drive, bend low to see

anything I can of the blurred road. I’m forty, lonely,
broke, childless. My country doesn’t believe in global

warming, ignores the husks of dead bees, the coral
graying, the water rising. I am part of something larger

dying. In silence, we walk back to our cars, turn on
wipers and lights, wait for her to restart her engine,

and when she does move I follow her, slowly
through water, our driver’s side doors scratching

against autumn’s old corn stalks as we try to avoid
the deepest parts, our mother’s wheels pushing ripples

out from our centers, rolling towards the fork in the road,
where we free ourselves from each other.

Midwives

Before medicine men’s rubber
hands, midwives’ were the doorway
to this world. No gardening, no milking,
no butchering. They kept their hands
clean. Before the bright white lights, ghostly
gowns, masks, before the cold
paper crinkling like strawflowers, candles,
cotton, cricket, wind lifted sweat. Before newborns
were whisked and weighed, inked, in-
jected. Before epidurals, oxytocin, C-sections, songs
bridged mothers to their mothers. New mothers
followed their voices while midwives’ elbowed
deep into muscle, thinly fingered canals, kneed
loose contractions, assured her her body is
how other bodies were. As we breached
our mother’s border, their hands lifted
us onto our mother’s belly,
and as they remembered how to breathe,
we learned.

Author Portrait

Michelle Bonczek Evory is the author most recently of The Ghosts of Lost Animals, winner of the 2018 Barry Spacks Poetry Prize (Gunpower P) and a book on craft Naming the Unnamable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations (Open SUNY Textbooks). Her poetry has been featured in the Best New Poets anthology and in many journals and magazines. In 2015, she and her husband, poet Rob Evory, were the inaugural Artists in Residence at Gettysburg National Military Park. She teaches in Kalamazoo, MI, and mentors poets at The Poet’s Billow.

View the website of Michelle Bonczek Evory