I curled into an orange plastic chair, scabby
knees to bony chest, against antiseptic
smells and squeaking rubber soles
of nurses' shoes rubbing against gray linoleum.
Across the hall, my mother lay
dying. A young doctor, his white coat flapping,
paused, studied me clinically. "Are you
comfortable like that?" he asked.
When my head bobbed, he gave a sharp
nod of his own. "It's the fetal
position. How you were in the womb,"
he said, and moved briskly
on. My first lover
complained: "I can't hold
you when you lie there like that."
I tightened my body
further until he abandoned
the bed. Now, years later,
I curl around my burgeoning
belly. The cat sleeps draped
around me, connecting knees
and breasts that no longer meet,
her dark fur a comma
between security and the rest.