This is your assignment,
describe a distance between this newborn and
these dingy, bloodied bedsheets easing
one life out, one life in, when
just a boy and pregnant with despair
and petty crimes and grand intoxications
wraps a simple bedsheet around his neck,
a bedsheet not unlike the one
the boy and girl have stained and bloodied
in their astonished quick breaths
some night not long before the jail cell.
That’s old news now, like the boy’s
last troubled gasp, but there’s a story still
in the new breaths this baby dares to draw.
Author’s Note: (Previously published in Chronogram).
Kenneth Salzmann is a writer and poet who lives in Woodstock, NY, and Ajijic, Mexico. His poetry has appeared in Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers, Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude, Rattle, The New Verse News, The Comstock Review, and elsewhere.