By Elizabeth Harlan-Ferlo

I see her first at the back of the church.
                  I’ll have to be nice to her
then she parades it in 

She of all people and Christmas morning 

          dirty blonde hair and face light-filled
          from the hand-blown glass windows.

how dare she a baby. 

Last summer we all shepherded children:
tent to lake to washhouse to meals.
All of us were alike
in furtive trysts.

I’d carefully
resolved to lose track
of virginity
the way you should a relative
           who won’t
           stop 

           drinking.
I spent womb-years
drugged with prevention,
         let the pills make me 

         nothing. I told myself,
         in a minute, a baby,
         not now,
         soon.  I’m staring, 

         I’m trying
         to look not at her I’m thinking

when Mary came
to visit
Elizabeth, it leaped up inside her,
                    it knew.  Liz burst out, sang. 

The boyfriend arrives now, late,
half-proud.

          They were clearly fooling around;
          or she thought
          he was being careful;
          or the condom broke.
          This is a regular miracle.  

I’d settle.


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