Emily Leithauser

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Emily Leithauser


At twenty weeks, I tell my colleague,
a friend, who in suddenness, takes
me in her truck along the roads,
the potholes and the stoplights
I’ve memorized. We open the doors
to nurses in quiet conversation,
and I’m assigned a room. She comes
with me. In my robe, curling open,
like an envelope left in the sun,
I swear that if the test is negative,
if what is running down my thigh
is nothing, then I’ll return and teach
my seminar on British Lit,
just like I’d planned. The nurses take
from me an artificial cough;
they measure me. I cannot live
until I make them understand.

(Across the city my students wait.)
Until I make them understand.
But what would I teach? Cracked urn.
And how is the baby? And what would
they learn? Can anyone in the entire world
explain to me, in the clearest terms,
what it means to lose, but only maybe?


Emily Leithauser reads “Amniotic”

Emily Leithauser’s first book, The Borrowed World, was published by Able Muse Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Blackbird, Southwest Review, The Common, and Literary Matters, among other journals. She is an assistant professor of English at Centenary College of Louisiana.