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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 15, 2018.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem, a part of a longer series, after giving birth to my son last spring. The title refers to the first forty days after childbirth, which many cultures view as a sacred time, a sort of second gestation in the womb of the house—an intimate interim between the birth and re-/joining the world. It’s a delicate, weird, precarious time—not quite life yet.”
—Michelle Gil-Montero

First Forty Days

1
 
Muddled stillness 
All summer
Sun 
 
Punched the yellow jacket nest
 
Cavernous paper
Valved like a parched heart
 
Over and over
I let it
 
Beat outside
My body
 
No dark to cradle
The living part 
 
 
2
 
The glare sears seeing  
              	        Something moves out of the corner
                                          	                      Often it is more      	nothing  
 
Tumbling
From its silk sack.             	
 
This stillness
 
              	         Shifts. Streak  
 
Of tiny particulars
Pained in relation: the experience still
 
So still
It is invisible?
 
It will settle, I will tell you
Where the edges belong
 
 
3
 
 
River
That bare aspiring edge
That killing arrow
      	      Feathered from its
Own wing
 
Then the third
River forms
 
When pain’s lit
 
Taper
Drips
 
 
Soft lip
Of my vision
 
Effacing, radiates
A late, silty light
My life
 
Slowly bottoming
Into thought  

Copyright © 2018 by Michelle Gil-Montero. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Michelle Gil-Montero. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Michelle Gil-Montero

Michelle Gil-Montero

Michelle Gil-Montero is the author of Attached Houses (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2013) and the translator of This Blue Novel by Valerie Mejer Caso (Action Books, 2016).