Keep Very Still and Quiet

Erin Emily Ann Vance


They said that a baby could be jarred loose

by carbonation
so I drank
and drank
and drank

They said that fucking while pregnant robs the child

in the womb,
so I fucked
and fucked
and fucked


I drank lead
and drew shapes

I stood naked in the rain
during the eclipse

willed her to shrivel.

She entered through my thumbnail
an old woman of wisp and willow.


Soon this will be over
and we can bury her little finger

and rub the blood on our thighs.

Soon, this will all be over
like a tooth extraction.


They brought a doctor in to judge
whether it was an epileptic fit

or her body

the stalagmite glass in my womb


I asked the roses, “But where
is the flash


When she somersaulted
she opened her mouth
spat Spanish flies
to the ceiling

Eyes sealed shut
with dry chalk.


Birds congregated
on the nursery windowsill
the cat watched
her sleep


Too smooth for a new-born,

too dull for a pearl.


I held her like an airplane.

She had another half-face
which was in her breast.


She formed with both hands the sign of the cross.

On her seventh birthday we trapped her in an aspirin bottle
so she could no longer make curtains
from the hair in the drain.


On the eve of her tenth birthday she outgrew the bottle
and burst from it with shards of plastic in her skin

I took her into my arms and held her,
gripping the little finger on her left hand.


We gathered her bones into a copper can,
wrapped it in my grandmother’s purple shawl
and tossed her into the pond.


Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work has appeared in numerous journals, including Contemporary Verse 2 and filling station. She was a 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction. She has work forthcoming in The Occulum, Revue Post, Plentitude, and The Warren Review. Find her at and @erinemilyann on instagram and twitter.