The Braid, by Carla Drysdale

First, my cry, then yours, split the sky
above that Brooklyn hospital
as you, limbs curled and purple
slid out of my body
after a prolonged and irreversible journey.
Pain, then
absence of pain.

The midwife held you up,
newborn body, alive in this world.
You peed an arc of urine
sparkling over the bed
and over her.

The champagne cork popped.
We all drank to life.
You suckled on a nipple.
Your lips still rimmed
with watery blood from that
other life inside.

We lay together, suspended,
holding on to each other.
Tough braid of blue and red
still binding us
cut for the first and last time.

From All Born Perfect, by Carla Drysdale. Published by Kelsay Books. This poem first appeared in the chapbook Inheritance from Finishing Line Press. Republished with permission of the poet.

Cucumber Psalm, by Lisa Bellamy

Flourish, unwashed, unpeeled, bouncy boys;
grow, citizen-workers, clothed in good dirt—
dearest ones, I place my hope in you—
your green is king, in my garden. Chopped, you are cukes,
(my Wisconsin mamma loschen)—fluted, celebrated,
bobbing in vinegar and dill; tastiest brine.
Emperor Tiberius, whom Pliny the Elder called
the gloomiest of men, enjoyed cucumbers every night
with dinner—yes, an attempt to self-medicate depressions—
but was his gloom depression or prophetic vision?
Caligula succeeded Tiberius. Today, the sky is blue—
so what. I cannot stop worrying about the republic.
When a Roman woman wanted a child, she tied
cucumbers about her waist; what, you ask,
do I want? Regime change. I want a sister or three,
subversive, fomenting coffee klatch, chatter,
plots against fascists over our Gurkensalat,
lopped, swished with sour cream—dearest cukes,
delight, nourish, fortify me—I want insurrection.

by Lisa Bellamy. Originally published in Salamander No. 50, Spring/Summer 2020. Reprinted with permission of the poet.