Whitney Templeton

PLACENTAL MEANS I HAVE YOU ON A STRING

I. EMBRYONIC

You and I, we walk this cord of yolk sac and allantois,
an umbilical tightrope

stretched between two poles, the zygote and neonate.
I carry you, skidding

my low arches along the rope, supple as tongue
and strung above the crowd,

a thousand mouths
ajar. The communal oh,

as in oh look!
or oh my!

Beneath us, they are poised to swallow you
in case I unfold my arms for balance.

II. FETAL

Your cochlea flowers into sound
so I cup my mouth around a tin can
sprouting from my navel,
the stem green and thin as twine.

Whatever I whisper, your inner ear will hum
into a lullaby. Even lies liquesce—
nectar in your budding lobes.

III. NATAL

Calloused from my lasso,
I reel you in. Because you are new-
born, you are wild
and know nothing
about strings.

This one we will cut, I say,
but the others—
I will teach you how to tie them
into knots.

Whitney Templeton

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