She arrived three weeks earlier than anticipated,
all hopes and dreams dashed at first sight of her.
Whisked away by the nurses,
I cried and pleaded for her to be returned.
They took turns examining her, taking pictures,
comparing her to textbook photos, whispering about her,
sadly shaking their heads as they handed her back over to me
and walked away.
I took the wrapped bundle and peeled away the layers
to find my mewing baby, her hands gripping, arms waving
once freed; so perfect until I pulled off her makeshift bonnet
and looked into an empty cranial crater.
Nothing could prepare me
for the wholeness,
the holiness of my living, breathing child
born without a brain.
Her forehead quit above the eyebrows with the rear skull missing,
tufts of soft brown hair fringed her perfect ears, around the back of her neck.
Her eyelids puffy, squinting tight, seemingly too big
above a button nose and rosebud pink lips.
She squirmed under my fingers, her muscles moving,
breaths coming steady
despite no awareness of light or touch or noise.
She could surely feel my love for her if nothing else.
Crying in little whimpers, mouth working, seeking,
lips tentatively gripping my fingertip. I opened my breast,
warm nipple offered with tentative suck allowing tiny flow,
then, amazing, one gurgling swallow.
She lay next to me, skin to skin
fragrant with the salty sweet scent of amnion
as she slowly grew dusky
and began to slip from my grasp.
Her breathing weakened, her muscles loosened, giving up her grip
on a motherís love she would never see or hear
to behold something far more glorious,
to feel perfection for which I could only long.
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