Grave, my wife lies back, hands cross
her chest, while the doctor searches early
for your heartbeat, peach pit, unripe
plum--pulls out the world's worst
boom box, a Mr. Microphone, to broadcast
your mother's lifting belly.
The whoosh and bellows of mama's body
and beneath it: nothing. Beaneath
the slow stutter of her heart: nothing.
The doctor trying again to find you, fragile
fern, snowflake. Nothing.
impatient, she went beyond her body,
this tiny room, into the ether--
for now, we spelunk for you one last time
lost canary, miner of coal
and chalk, lungs not yet black--
I hold my wife's feet to keep her here--
and me--trying not to dive starboard
to seek you in the dark water. And there
it is: faint, an echo, faster and further
away than mother's, all beat box
and fuzzy feedback. You are like hearing
hip-hop for the first time--power
hijacked from a lamppost--all promise.
You couldn't sound better, break-
dancer, my favorite song bumping
from a passing car. You've snuck
into the club underage and stayed!
Only later, much, will your mother
begin to believe your drumming
in the distance--my Kansas City
and Congo Square, this jazz band
vamping on inside her.
By Kevin Young