Caul

By Judith H. Montgomery

I am the wrap they think
         blesses her at birth.

The nurses who deliver
         her blue body drop

the limp placenta, slap
         her soles pink. Peel away

this lead-gray web veiling
         her skull, as they chatter

of luck. Fools. I am no
         amulet, no water charm.

I, her cloak of grief, her
         drowning gown. I bide,

hung on a bent hook
         until I can swaddle

her again in slick
         embraces. She thinks to ward

me off with rose cape
         and capsule. But I remain,

her second skin, her soul’s
         grim slip: when she least

expects me, I nudge
         inside her sleeves and feed—

little vampire at the heart—
         to plump my slippery

cope. She is mine. And
         knows it. Slides, and slides

back, into despair.
         Always, I am there.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 9

Judith H. Montgomery’s poems have received prizes from the Bellingham Review, the National Writers Union, and the Red Rock Review

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