Getting Kicked by a Fetus

Getting Kicked by a Fetus

Like right before you reach your floor, just
before the door of an elevator opens.
Like the almost imperceptible
springs you waded through in Iroquois Lake.

Sometimes high and jabby near the ribs;
sometimes low and fizzy like a pie
releasing steam, like beans
on the stovetop — slow

like the shimmer of incoming tide — hot, soft sand
meeting waves, slosh bringing sand crabs
that wriggle invisibly in.

And sometimes a school of herring
pushing through surf,
or a single herring

caught from a pier like a sliver of moon rising in the west;
sometimes a tadpole stuck in a pond growing smaller
and smaller, a puddle of mud, squirmy like worms —
now your left, now your right. Sometimes

neon flickering, like that Texaco sign near Riddle, Oregon — from a distance
it read TACO, but up close
the faintest glow, an occasional E or X,
like an ember re-igniting.

Like seeing your heartbeat through the thinnest part
of your foot, sunken well between ankle and heel,
reminder of a world beneath your skin, world
of which you know little,

and the pond growing smaller and smaller, soon the rolling waves
like the ones you dove into at Bradley Beach, at Barneget,
growing less frequent, your giant ocean
drying up, your little swimmer

sinking, giving way
to the waves
of his birth.

Martha Silano

Getting Kicked by a Fetus
Martha Silano

what it means

This is what it feels like to be pregnant.

why I like it

When I was pregnant, I went on a search for good poems about pregnancy and birth.  I found almost nothing.  Or at least nothing that spoke to me.  Most were sickly sweet.  This one feels exactly right, both that sense of anticipation and something bubbling inside you and the shock of realizing a world is happening inside you.


One of my challenges as a poet is to keep going.  I find my way to one good metaphor and I think oh thank goodness I can quit now. This poem takes one thing—being kicked by a fetus—and gives a dozen takes on it.  In my imagination, she actually had a hundred and brought it down to these that fit together and brought together so many different worlds.    

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