If he told me it’s like dropping a glass jar on the floor, watching it spin out
into shards so fine you’d never find all the pieces, I would believe him.
If he said it was like finding a whole dinner left overnight in the oven
and spoiled, it wouldn’t sound far-fetched to think of a baby as spoiled.
Just blue, like something washed up from the ocean, a bloated bath toy
that shrinks when it dries, foamy and skeletal looking.
Or that his wife has been begging him to put one back in her ever since
their little boy went to sleep between their massive bodies and choked on nothing.
Lungs like crushed velvet.
Death by blankets.
If it made whispering his name in the morning sound like waking a phantom limb,
dropping an anchor, learning his whole lineage went out like a dampened flame
I’d have to believe it. My daughter tells stories about brothers I did not birth
and I call it make-believe. We are the ones to say,
No, I can’t imagine what that feels like.
The imagination won’t do it right. It can’t make enough dark space in the mind to let the cold feet fall in your hands. And he didn’t either, my friend who rolled over on his son, he laid there for a long time trying to rub life back into the body, not agreeing for days to call him gone. He touched him, like always, expecting a stir when he runs a finger across the belly, the space around them blurring with the fading taste of milk.
The little mouth saying nothing, needing no one.
I don’t know what you call that.
Jennifer Greenberg is currently working on her BA in Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida. Her work has been featured in Literary Mama, Homology Lit, Sonder Midwest and Chomp.